Sundra Rajoo Claims Trial to CBT Charges, Fails to Get Leave for Immunity Declaration

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Facing up to 20 years’ jail, whipping and fine upon conviction.

Former Asian International Centre for Arbitration (AIAC) director Datuk Prof Sundra Rajoo Nadarajah was charged with criminal breach of trust involving over RM1 million of the entity’s funds.

Wearing a black suit, Sundra claimed trial to the three charges that were read out to him at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today, repeatedly noting that he is not waiving the legal immunity he claimed to possess.

“I do not waive my immunity privileges and I plead not guilty,” he said when the first charge was read out.

“Subject to retaining my immunity privileges, I plead not guilty,” he said when the second charge was read, before entering the same plea for the third charge.

Sundra, who appeared calm, was charged with committing the offences while entrusted to AIAC’s funds as its then-director, in the period spanning from December 2016 to August 2018.

The first charge is over RM89,700 of AIAC funds, with the offence allegedly committed between December 8, 2016, and June 30, 2017, while the second charge is over RM621,172.50 of the same funds with the offence alleged to have occurred between March 1, 2017, and December 29, 2017.

The third charge involving a criminal breach of trust over RM300,495 of AIAC funds allegedly committed between January 24, 2018, and August 17, 2018, which brings the total sum involved to RM1,011,367.50.

All three charges were brought under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which carries the penalty of a jail term of between two and 20 years, whipping, and fine.

The prosecution had asked for bail to be set at RM200,000, but Sundra’s lawyer, Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu, sought for bail to be set at a “fair, reasonable amount” of RM50,000.

Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi granted bail of RM100,000 with one surety and ordered that Sundra surrender his passport to the court when he returns from a work trip on April 2.

Sundra was initially expected to be charged in the Sessions Court yesterday, but it was deferred until today as he did not show up then due to the prosecution’s unsuccessful efforts to contact him.

Baljit explained that there was no indication last Friday that his client would be charged, noting that Sundra was down with conjunctivitis and had been in Sungai Petani over the weekend.

The criminal case will come up for mention again on May 3.

Hari Anggara

Earlier in a separate case, Sundra failed in his application for leave to initiate a judicial review proceeding for a declaration that he is entitled to immunity from any charges during his official capacity.

The High Court made the ruling after finding it had no jurisdiction to hear the application as it is not amenable for review.

High Court judge Justice Nordin Hassan said that based on the observation by the Court of Appeal, which was agreed by the Federal Court, the Attorney-General (A-G) has unfettered jurisdiction in criminal offences.

“This court cannot stop the A-G from prosecuting any person in a criminal matter, so this application for judicial review is dismissed without cost,” he said at the hearing of the leave application on Tuesday (March 26).

On March 4, Sundra, 63, who was the head of the AIAC from 2010 until late last year, filed for leave for judicial review proceedings at the High Court Registrar’s Office and named Foreign Affairs Ministry, the A-G, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and the government as respondents.

In his leave application, he sought a declaration that he has immunity as a former high officer, being the director of the AIAC, for acts done within his official capacity.

He also sought an order of prohibition preventing the MACC from arresting, detaining, issuing any warrant or other or otherwise bringing any judicial proceedings whatsoever against him with regard to anything done by him in his capacity as director of the AIAC, and more specifically with regard to any acts or omission by him during his term of office as director of the centre in relation to the property, funds or documents of the centre or otherwise howsoever in relation to the affairs of the centre.

Lawyer K Shanmuga represented Sundra while Senior Federal Counsel S Narkunavathy appeared for the respondents.

The AIAC is an organisation under the umbrella of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organisation. Its role is to assist in resolving cross-border disputes and to counsel companies, senior management and stakeholders through international arbitration.

Sundra had also resigned as the deputy chairman of FIFA ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber after he was suspended over the bribery investigation.

Earlier report: Mar 25, Ex-AIAC Director Given 24-Hour Ultimatum to Face Three Corruption Charges