Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas tonight denied agreeing with the government’s decision to drop money-laundering charges against Riza Aziz.
His remarks were in response to a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) statement explaining the events that led to the sessions court giving Najib Razak’s stepson a discharge not amounting to an acquittal today.
In the statement, the agency said that the decision to drop charges had been agreed to by Thomas.
Responding to this, Thomas said he was aware that Riza’s lawyers had made written representations to the Attorney-General’s Chambers regarding the case. Such representations are usually made by lawyers on behalf of accused persons and is a normal practice in most jurisdictions.
Riza is the son of Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, from her first marriage. His claim to fame is being a partner at Hollywood production company Red Granite, which produced The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Recalling the sequence of events, Thomas said that his special officer at the AGC, Rahayu Mamuzaini, drew his attention to the written representations made by Riza’s lawyers.
After going through the contents, Thomas said he had handed the documents over to special prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram, who is prosecuting Riza in the money-laundering case.
The brief was simple: Sri Ram was to examine the representations made by Riza’s lawyer, but as far as the prosecution was concerned, nothing happened after this.
Thomas said: “I resigned two-and-a-half months ago and up to that point, there was no agreement to drop charges against Riza. So, it is wholly untrue and a fabrication to say that I had agreed to the decision.
“I am terribly disappointed that the MACC had to make this false statement.”
This morning, the sessions court had granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) to Riza, who had been charged with five counts of money laundering amounting to US$248 million.
The funds were alleged to have flowed in cross-border transactions from two Switzerland bank accounts of two companies named in the massive 1MDB financial scandal — Good Star Limited and Aabar Investments PJS Limited — to the US bank account of Red Granite Productions Inc and the Singapore bank account of Red Granite Capital Ltd.
The two companies were said to be linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, commonly known as Jho Low.
Riza claimed trial to the five charges, which are each punishable with a maximum RM5 million fine or maximum five-year jail term or both.
Earlier, the MACC said the Malaysian government is expected to recover overseas assets involved in the offence, which is estimated at US$107.3 million (RM465.3 million).
“Based on the agreement, the accused is required to pay a compound to the government under Section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 which is punitive as an alternative to the charges that have been brought against him,” read a statement issued by MACC today.
“The agreement between the prosecution and the accused through representation in court was a decision considered and agreed by the former attorney general, Tan Sri Tommy Thomas,” the statement pointed out.
This morning, Sri Ram was quoted saying how the agreement had been made between the prosecution and the accused.
Sri Ram was said to have told the court that the federal government would receive a substantial sum running into “several million ringgit” as a result of the agreement.