Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has voiced his disapproval over the outcome of Riza Aziz’s money laundering case.
In a video, Mahathir said he was “confused” that a person charged with having “stolen money” could have charges withdrawn because he had agreed to return the money.
Yesterday, Riza, the son of Rosmah Mansor and wife of former prime minister Najib Razak, who had been charged with five counts of money laundering amounting to US$248 million (RM1.08 billion) was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.
Judge Azman Ahmad allowed the application to grant him a discharge after ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram told the court this would be subject to the accused fulfilling his side of the bargain.
Riza had claimed trial in July 2019 to.money laundering charges allegedly involving funds received from Good Star Ltd and Aabar Investments PJS Ltd, two companies said to be linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low.
“If we hold to this basis, thieves will get away,” Mahathir said.
“Someone steals billions, is arrested and, when charged in court, returns the money and says ‘I have returned the money, now don’t take action against me’ and we say ‘It’s okay then, you have returned the money’.”
Mahathir said there were “many thieves” in the country and foresaw that the “biggest thief” will return “stolen money” and get off the hook for the crime.
He said while he was not questioning the judge’s decision, as an MP involved in making laws, he hoped the legislation would be effective.
Mahathir said he did not recall any law which made it okay for a person who has stolen money to get off the hook by returning it.
“I’m not a lawyer. I’m not well versed with laws, but if there are laws like this, we need to amend them.
“I don’t know, it’s up to the Dewan Rakyat. Maybe, it will agree because only the opposition is opposing, and the government is not.
“Actually, the people chose us as the government, but now we are not (the government).
“Our aim is to ensure criminals are punished. There is a possibility they will get away and our struggle will be over.”
Earlier report: May 14, Najib’s Stepson Riza Given Discharge Not Amounting to Acquittal for Money Laundering