Following DNAA, Umno Legal Adviser Pleads Not Guilty to Money Laundering RM15M

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Temporarily freed from money laundering offences before he was charged afresh.

Hardly an hour after the Kuala Lumpur High Court gave him a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA), on two counts of money laundering involving RM15 million, lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun was brought to the Session Court and charged with three counts of similar charges, involving the same amount, allegedly received from former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Hafarizam, who is also UMNO legal adviser, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges which were read out before judge Azman Ahmad.

On the first count, he was alleged to have received RM7.5 million, believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities, through a AmIslamic Bank Berhad cheque, dated April 16, 2014, belonging to Najib and deposited into the account of his former legal firm, Messrs. Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak (HWAM).

Ahmad Zamzahuri

Hafarizam was alleged to have committed the offence at CIMB Bank Berhad, Putra World Trade Centre, Jalan Tun Ismail on April 17, 2014.

The charge was framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which provides an imprisonment for up to 15 years and fine of not less than five times the amount, if found guilty.

For the second and third charges, Hafarizam was charged with receiving RM4 million and RM3.5 million, respectively, which were proceeds from unlawful activities through two cheques, dated Nov 7, 2014 and Jan 21, 2015, which belonged to Najib, and the money deposited into the account of the same legal firm.

The offence was allegedly committed between Nov 12, 2014 and Feb 12, 2015 at the same place.

The charges were framed under Section 4(1)(b)  of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which provides an imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years and shall also be liable to a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the proceeds of an unlawful activity or instrumentalities of an offence at the time the offence was committed or five million ringgit, whichever is  higher, upon conviction.

Azman allowed him bail of RM200,000 in one surety and set Sept 9 for mention.

“The accused is required to pay deposit of RM5,000 today and the balance to be paid before noon tomorrow,” said the judge, who also ordered Hafarizam to surrender his passport to the court pending disposal of the case.

The bail amount was as requested by Hafarizam’s lawyer, Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican.

“The bail amount set by the previous (High) court, which was RM500,000, is still with the court. I request that for these new charges, the bail amount is lower. He has also just opened his own legal firm, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, it has affected his law firm,” said Hasnal when asking for a RM200,000 bail for his client.

Hafarizam is not a flight risk, he said, adding that the lawyer had been given permission to go to the United Kingdom and he returned home within the time set by the court.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Ishak Mohd Yusoff did not object to the bail amount requested by the defence.

Earlier, Hafarizam was temporarily freed from money laundering offences he faced after High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali granted a DNAA over Hafarizam’s RM15 million money laundering cases.

During the proceedings before Nazlan, deputy public prosecutor Ishak proposed not to proceed on two charges against Hafarizam before the High Court and sought an order of discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

“The prosecution intends to split up the two transactions in the current first charge against the accused for money-laundering into two new charges.

“This is due to the different dates of the two transactions between April and Nov 2014.

“The version of the money-laundering laws in effect on those two dates is different.

“Thus, we propose for all charges to be discharged not amounting to acquittal and we (the prosecution) will charge him again at the Sessions Court,” he said.

Hafarizam’s lead counsel then told the court that they would like to withdraw their application to recuse Nazlan from hearing the case.

“We will file the recusal application again if my client’s case is transferred to this court again,” he said.

Nazlan then allowed the application to enable the prosecution to file afresh charges against Hafarizam at the lower court.

“The application for my recusal is therefore recorded as being withdrawn by the defence,” he said.

Hafarizam previously represented Najib in multiple court cases while the latter was prime minister and Umno president and even after he no longer held the two positions.

When met outside the courtroom, Hafarizam confirmed to reporters that he is still the legal adviser for Umno but has completed the civil cases that he was representing Najib in. Hafarizam said he is not involved in representing Najib for any of the latter’s criminal cases.