Lawyers: Contrary Statements by Thomas, MACC on Riza Case Must Be Addressed

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The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) must explain the contradiction in statements between the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and former Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas over the discharge given to film producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz who was accused of money laundering.

Senior lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun should clear the air and protect the good name of the rightful parties.

He was commenting on the latest development relating to Riza’s case, where the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on five counts of money laundering charges involving US$248 million (RM1.25 billion) by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Thursday (May 14).

Following the court’s decision, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said in a statement that the government was expected to recover overseas assets worth an estimated US$107.3 million (RM465.3 million) following an agreement struck between the prosecution and the accused.

It also said that the agreement, through representation to the authorities, was a decision considered and agreed to by Thomas.

Thomas, however, denied this in his statement to The Malaysian Insight.

“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.

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“I am terribly disappointed that the MACC had to make this false statement,” he reportedly said.

Haniff said it was “unhealthy” to leave such a blatant contradiction and denial unaddressed.

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“This can scar the integrity and position of those involved, whether Thomas, the appointed prosecutor (in the case) Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram or the MACC,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu said Thomas should lodge a police report and file a civil suit over the matter.

“There are action plans available to Thomas to clear his name.

Zhafaran Nasir/The Star

“The MACC is bold enough to make a statement, surely they have a concrete foundation,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has remained firm in stating that Thomas’ prosecution team was behind the settlement with Riza.

In a report by Free Malaysia Today last night, anti-graft chief Datuk Seri Azam Baki pointed out that during ongoing court cases, the ultimate decision is made by the deputy public prosecutor.

“This is an ongoing case in court, so whatever decision is made by the deputy public prosecutor.

“We inform the public about what’s happening. That’s all,” Azam reportedly said in his response to Thomas’ denial.

“Without their statement and permission, we wouldn’t have made any kind of confirmation to the public. This is what we were informed. Never mind if the former A-G wants to deny, that’s up to him. We stand by our statement,” Azam said.

On Riza’s discharge, Baljit said under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution and Section 245 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the public prosecutor has wide discretionary powers to discontinue any proceedings at any stage of the trial before the court makes its judgment.

“The order of a discharge not amounting to an acquittal does not prevent the prosecution from charging Riza again based on the same facts and the plea of double jeopardy as provided under Article 7 of the Federal Constitution does not apply,” he said.


Earlier report: May 14, Former A-G Denies Agreeing with Govt’s Decision to Drop Money-Laundering Charges Against Riza