After being on the run for almost a year, businessman Nicky Liow Soon Hee was today charged with committing 26 counts of money laundering amounting to more than RM36 million.
However, the 34-year-old soon walked out of the courtroom after posting RM1 million bail.
Liow, who was dressed in a black long-sleeved t-shirt and black pants, was even allowed to post only half the amount today with the balance to be deposited tomorrow.
The ruling was made by Shah Alam Sessions Court judge Helina Sulaiman after Liow was charged and he pleaded not guilty to all the offences.
Earlier, it took about 30 minutes for the court interpreter to read all the charges in Mandarin against the accused after he was escorted into the courtroom at about 9am.
The father of two, who is suspected of masterminding an organised crime group known as the “Nicky Gang”, surrendered voluntarily to the police yesterday.
According to the charge sheets, the accused as a company director was allegedly involved in money laundering and possessing monies believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities.
He was accused of committing the offence in several places near the Klang Valley between 2016 and 2021.
The charges were framed under Section 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(b) Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA) 2001.
The offence under AMLATFPUAA carries a jail term not exceeding 15 years’ and a fine of at least five times the sum obtained from money laundering or RM5 million, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
Deputy public prosecutor Rozalina Zakaria asked the court not to impose bail against the accused, in accordance to Section 13 of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
“However, if the court decides to grant bail, it should not be anything less than RM3.6 million.
“The court should consider the fact that the accused is a wanted man and was listed in Interpol’s Red Notice,” she said.
Counsel Datuk Rajpal Singh, however, pleaded for minimum bail of RM500,000 with two sureties.
Rajpal in his submissions also quoted several money laundering cases involving high profile individuals such as Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Najib’s stepson Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz who had all been granted bail.
“All of them were allowed bail even though their cases involved billions of Ringgit,” he said.
However, Rozalina contended that they were public figures and politicians who have different status compared to the accused.
Rajpal who was not amused with Rozalina’s statement, argued that no one is different in the eyes of law.
“I am surprised the prosecution can come out with these words,” he said, adding that bail was only to secure his client’s attendance.
The court later set RM1 million bail with two sureties and asked the accused to surrender his passport until the disposal of the case.
The judge also ordered Liow’s passport to be confiscated and directed him to report to the commercial crime department twice a month.
Two of the accused’s friend later posted half the amount with the balance to be deposited tomorrow.
The court also fixed May 26 for case management.
On April 9 last year, Liow and his brother were charged in the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court for allegedly being members of an organised crime group.
However, Liow was charged in absentia, as he was on the run.
Liow, who is the founder of Winner Dynasty Group, had been tracked down by the police over a Macau Scam syndicate after 68 of its members were arrested in “Op Pelican 3.0” in March last year.
On April 26, the same year, the Pahang palace stripped Liow of the Darjah Kebesaran Darjah Sri Sultan Ahmad Shah Pahang (SSAP) which carries the title of Datuk Seri.
Meanwhile, Rajpal said Liow was never part of any criminal gang but happened to be in the spotlight after being successful in business and flaunting his wealth.
The lawyer said Liow’s habit of showing off his wealth had triggered authorities to question his sources of income.
“He is just a young guy who makes a lot of money and shows off but he’s not part of any gang. He’s not a gangster.
“He was never involved in any organised crime. The depiction of him being the head of a syndicate or gang is not true,” he was quoted as saying.
Rajpal said that in the past, Liow had donated a lot of money to the police, the prisons department and several other parties.
Asked if Liow had ever fled the country, Rajpal said to his knowledge, he never left the country.
“Basically, he was not in favour of Sosma being used against him because he believed he was not involved in an organised crime,” he said, referring to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.
“He thought it was unfair to use Sosma against him.”
Rajpal said the defeat of the motion to extend the Sosma provision on the 28-day detention in the Dewan Rakyat recently was good news to Liow, who then considered coming out of hiding.
“He (Liow) said if the issue is with alleged involvement in commercial crime, he’s willing to step forward, give his statement, and cooperate with the police,” he said.