Sepang MP Mohamed Hanipa Maidin today questioned the integrity of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) following the acquittal of Umno’s Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan from charges of allegedly providing false statements to the graft busters.
The former deputy law minister conceded that deciding to drop the money laundering-related charges was the discretion of the attorney general (AG), but said it was perplexing for MACC to accept that charges involving Ahmad allegedly falsifying his statement to their investigators were also dropped.
Hanipa asserted these charges against Ahmad for allegedly giving false information to the MACC when he was questioned by investigating officer Mohd Zairi Zainal, framed under Section 32(8)c) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFA), should not have been dropped as it involved the very issue of integrity.
“If the MACC are really interested in looking after their integrity as an independent body, and as a body that cannot be lied to by anyone, by right the charge involving YB Pontian involving the offence under Section 32(8)(c) should have not been dropped.
“How can a body like the MACC who investigated a politician, are suddenly duped by that politician to the point he is prosecuted, but the charges are later dropped. I would like an explanation for this.
“They (MACC) should not have allowed this charge to be dropped, so the AG I feel he should, if he has integrity, I would ask him to resign,” he said in Dewan Rakyat while debating the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).
Sungai Buloh MP Sivarasa Rasiah then interjected and touched on how Ahmad was issued a compound in lieu of his discharging, saying offences under the AMLATFA actually do not allow for compounds to be offered to the accused once charges have been read in court.
He stressed how the treatment would differ from cases framed under the Penal Code that is subjected to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) which allows for compounds to be issued even after charges have been made.
“AMLA is different, because if we compared the provisions, Section 92(3) to be specific, we see the wording is very different and it gives a picture that if you want to compound an offence, it has to be done before the charge, after the charge it cannot be done,” said Sivarasah to Hanipa’s affirmation.
Yesterday, the High Court ordered Ahmad to be freed after deputy public prosecutor Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar informed the court that the prosecution was withdrawing the two charges after the accused paid a compound of RM1.1 million the day before.
Prior to this, the court had set 23 days starting June 7 next year to hear the case.
On the first charge, Ahmad was alleged to have violated Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967 by not stating his real income on the RM2 million he received from the former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the Income Tax Return Form for Assessment Year 2013.
The former deputy finance minister was alleged to have received the money, believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities, via a check from AmIslamic Bank Berhad dated November 27, 2013, which he personally cashed on the same day.
The other charge was for giving false statements to the MACC when questioned by investigating officer Mohd Zairi Zainal over the issue at the media conference room, at the Parliament building between 2.45pm and 3.30pm on July 4, 2019.
MACC in a statement later clarified the compound was a penalty, and that such compound payments were a form of punitive action taken against individuals charged with money laundering.
The graftbusters had also said Ahmad was offered a similar settlement in October 2019 but rejected it and instead chose to claim trial.
Ahmad in Parliament today asserted he was the victim of the lack of political funding legislation, and how he would not have been charged if the proposed laws had already existed.
Hanipa today added that the acquittals of politicians accused and charged for corruption-related offences do not instil confidence in the people that the government and its agencies are transparent and with integrity.
“The process has to be seen as fair, and as one that can give confidence to the people but now with the acquittal of so many politicians who were charged under the Pakatan Harapan government being acquitted so easily under the current government, this raises many questions.
“As long as this government cannot let go of their image as a government that has no integrity, there is no need to speak about having or instilling integrity, it is just a waste of time,” he added. – MMO