Lawyer claims corruption charges against Azeez defective, groundless

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He claimed that none of the corruption charges as well as the money laundering charges would stand in any court of law.

Bernama

The Court of Appeal today heard that none of the corruption charges framed against Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim would stand in court.

His counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad said this was because the Baling member of parliament was working for the company he is accused of taking bribes from.

Amer submitted this during the hearing of an appeal over the High Court’s decision dismissing Azeez’s application to strike out his 13 charges of receiving bribes and money laundering pertaining to road projects in Kedah and Perak obtained by Menuju Asas Sdn Bhd.

Based on a report by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Amer said his client had been gainfully employed at the company and had received lawful remuneration from it.

“In this report which is based on evidence and witnesses that have been interviewed, the appellant (Azeez) received lawful remuneration from the company. That is the finding in this report.

“The charges seem to have connections with Menuju Asas and under the financial analysis, the report states that the income of the nominee refers to any income received or given legally,” Amer said during proceedings conducted via Zoom.

The report, he said, had clearly shown that there is admission by MACC that his client was legally employed by Menuju Asas and received legitimate income from the company and paid taxes to the Inland Revenue Board.

He said based on these facts, the MACC could not blow hot and cold since it had acknowledged that Azeez was receiving lawful remuneration from the company he is connected to.

“On one hand you (MACC) acknowledge he received legal remuneration and now you charge him with receiving bribes and receiving unlawful proceeds from the same employer. That clearly cannot hold water.

“Without even going for a full trial, I submit that based on this report that has not been challenged by the MACC, clearly they had accepted that my client was gainfully employed by Menuju Asas and received lawful income.

“Therefore, none of the corruption charges as well as the money laundering charges would stand in any court of law

“The accused will be denied a fair trial as guaranteed under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution. The charges must be very clear for him to put to his defence,” he said before a three-member bench chaired by Kamaludin Md Said.

The other judges were Abu Bakar Jais and Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali.

Azeez, the former Tabung Haji chairman, was slapped with three corruption charges amounting to RM5.2 million and 10 money laundering charges amounting to RM139.3 million.

He is said to have received the RM5.2 million from Mohammad Redzuan Mohanan Abdullah, a director of Syarikat Menuju Asas Sdn Bhd, in the Klang Valley between December 2010 and April 2018.

He is also accused of receiving RM139.3 million from four companies – Menuju Asas Sdn Bhd, Mangkubumi Sdn Bhd, Pintas Utama Sdn Bhd and AVP Engineering Sdn Bhd.

Amer said nine of the 10 money laundering charges failed to spell out the sources of the alleged unlawful proceeds.

“This is a clear non-compliance of the law,” he said.

He said the corruption charges were defective, but the High Court had, in a ruling, held that it was a mere irregularity and could be “cured” as allowed under the law.

Kamaludin then asked Amer whether the prosecution should be allowed to prove its prima facie and for the trial judge to rule at the close of the prosecution’s case.

“They (the prosecution) are gone if they cannot prove their case, but to allow your appeal will also set a dangerous precedent,” he said.

Amer said only seven witnesses had been called and they had not helped the prosecution to prove the ingredient of the charges.

Bakar also asked Amer why the defence did not want to raise all the points during the trial.

Amer replied that he was entrusted with the case after the witnesses had given their evidence and he had proceeded to file an application to strike out the charges.

The bench then ordered deputy public prosecutor Aslinda Ahad to file a written submission in reply to points raised by Amer today.

“Amer has raised good points. We have to write a judgment as any decision will bind (it to) the lower courts,” he said, adding that parties should put in their submissions by Sept 20.

Oral submission has been adjourned to Oct 6.

Azeez has been exempted from attending the proceedings as he has to be in the Dewan Rakyat.

On March 12, High Court judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin turned down Azeez’s striking-out application on grounds the charges were not defective.

“The accused failed to show how he was prejudiced and could not present his defence. It is premature at this stage for the court to decide on the charges,” he said.

Jamil said MACC had investigated Azeez thoroughly and there was no mala fide.

The judge said the attorney-general, who was also the public prosecutor, had discretion to commence any criminal proceedings against accused persons, under any law he deemed proper.

Azeez had also obtained a stay of proceedings in the Sessions Court before judge Azura Alwi pending the outcome of his appeal in the Court of Appeal.