Appeal court overturns Tengku Adnan’s corruption conviction

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Court of Appeal acquits and discharges Tengku Adnan over RM2 million graft charges – a decision the prosecution may appeal to the Federal Court.

While Tengku Adnan was later seen raising his hands in prayer, deputy public prosecutor Asmah Musa said she would obtain instructions from the attorney-general whether to appeal the decision to the Federal Court

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor or Ku Nan is now a free man after the Court of Appeal acquitted and discharged him over a RM2 million graft charge and 12-month jail sentence.

A three-man panel comprising Judges Datuk Suraya Othman, Datuk Abu Bakar Jais and Datuk Ahmad Nasfy Yasin allowed Tengku Adnan’s appeal to set aside his conviction and sentences imposed by the High Court on Dec 21, last year.

Suraya, who chaired the panel, said the learned High Court judge had made an error in his judgement.

She said there was also no evidence to show that the key witness in the case, property tycoon Tan Sri Chai King Kong, had been dishonest when testifying.

“Thus, we allow the appeal and set aside the appellant’s conviction,” she said.

“Our decision is not unanimous. Nasry and I believe this appeal must be allowed while my learned colleague Datuk Abu Bakar dissents,” she said.

“So, on that majority decision, we acquit and discharge the appellant of the charge.”

When presenting her reasons for the acquittal, Justice Suraya said High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan failed to take into consideration evidence provided by Chai and investigating officer Muhammad Saad Bordani who both said the RM2 million purportedly given to Ku Nan was a political donation.

Tengku Adnan’s lead counsel, Tan Hock Chuan, submitted in April before the bench that the cheque for RM2 million given by Chai was a political donation and not for the former minister’s personal benefit.

He said that evidence by prosecution witnesses, including Chai, had shown that the money was meant to be used for two by-elections – in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar – in 2016.

Umno candidates Mastura Mohd Yazid (Kuala Kangsar) and Budiman Mohd Zohdi (Sungai Besar) won both the parliamentary seats.

“Chai testified that he was aware he gave my client (Tengku Adnan) money for the purpose of the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections,” Tan said.

“It was not the first time that he (Chai) had made such a political contribution.”

He said a receipt was issued by Umno to Chai a few days after he had handed over the cheque.

“This evidence supports the fact that Chai had made a contribution for the by-elections,” he said.

Justice Suraya proceeded to read out a part of Justice Mazlan’s verdict where he disregarded Chai’s evidence in respect to the RM2 million receipt, which he insisted was for political donations.

“We are not persuaded by the learned judge’s reasoning. Based on this set of facts, the judge should have adopted an inference in favour of the defence. With respect, we are of the view that the failure on the part of the learned trial judge to consider the foregoing unchallenged direct evidence especially of Tan Sri Chai amounts to serious misdirection which warrants appellate intervention,” she added.

“The trial judge failed to consider the failure of the prosecution to re-examine its own star witness Chai (own testimony) on the RM2 million being a political donation for Umno.

“The entire version of the prosecution’s case (against Adnan) was built on his (Chai) testimony.

“There was no suggestion by the prosecution that Chai was dishonest or untruthful, there was no attempt to impeach. The judge failed to consider that.

“We find such failure on such a critical point or issue amounted to misdirection, that rendered the conviction unsafe,” Suraya said.

“We agree with the appellant’s counsel that it is trite that the prosecution is bound by the testimony of its own witness,” she noted.

Tengku Adnan, 70, or better known as Ku Nan, filed the appeal on December 21 last year after the Kuala Lumpur High Court, on the same day, sentenced the Putrajaya Member of Parliament to 12 months’ jail and imposed a RM2 million fine on him after finding him guilty.

However, the court allowed Tengku Adnan’s application for a stay of execution of the jail sentence and fine pending his appeal.

Shafwan Zaidon

Tengku Adnan was charged in his capacity as a public servant, namely Minister of Federal Territories, with having received for himself a total of RM2 million from Chai, who is Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd (AKSB) director, via a Hong Leong Islamic Bank cheque belonging to the company which was deposited into a CIMB account owned by Tadmansori Holdings Sdn Bhd (THSB), which Tengku Adnan has an interest in and is known to AKSB as being related to his official duties.

He was accused of committing the offence at Pusat Bandar Damansara branch of CIMB here on June 14, 2016.

The charge was framed under Section 165 of the Penal Code which provides an imprisonment of up to two years or a fine or both, if convicted.

Meanwhile, in the dissenting ruling, Abu Bakar said that the lower court had made the correct decision in convicting Adnan.

He described as “self-serving” with regards to Adnan’s reliance on Chai’s testimony that the RM2 million was a political donation.

“Chai saying it (RM2 million) being a political donation was only because Adnan told him that the money was for political donation,” Abu Bakar said.

The Court of Appeal judge also pointed out that Adnan had given conflicting statements regarding the alleged Umno receipt that sought to show the RM2 million was meant as a political donation for the party.

After proceedings today, Adnan declined to speak to the media and quickly left the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya.

However, just outside the Palace of Justice, he was seen raising his hands in prayer.

Deputy public prosecutor Asmah Musa said she would obtain instructions from the attorney-general on whether to appeal the decision to the Federal Court.

“We have 14 days from today to file the notice of appeal,” she said.