Apandi Ali sues Lim Kit Siang for RM10 million for defamation but loses

Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid
Published:  May 23, 2022 5:29 PM
Updated: 7:37 PM

Lim Kit Siang was justified in his statement urging then attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali to answer why he had absolved former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak of the 1MDB affair in 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled.

Judge Azimah Omar this afternoon dismissed Apandi’s defamation suit against the DAP veteran over the 2019 article “Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia’s on the road to integrity”, which was published on his blog.

The judge noted that Lim was justified in raising the issue, especially following Najib’s conviction by a separate High Court in 2020 in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.

Azimah noted that Najib’s conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal last year.

The court also ordered Apandi to pay RM80,000 in legal costs to Lim.
.

In a civil suit for defamation, justification is a defence that the statements or allegations are factual, and if proven successful in court, this would act as an absolute defence against legal action.

On Jan 26, 2016, Apandi, while holding up SRC monetary flow charts during a media briefing, announced that no charges would be brought against Najib based on the investigations carried out by MACC. SRC International was a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

While reading out from the 100-page judgment today, Azimah noted that Lim’s article was not imputing that Apandi was guilty of abuse of power.

The judge said the defendant was merely saying that there is further ground for investigation over the matter and that parties named in Apandi’s press statement should come forward to explain the irregular transactions.

Azimah pointed out that Najib was successfully prosecuted at both the High Court and Court of Appeal when the former prime minister was exonerated during Apandi’s tenure as AG.

“The defendant has succeeded in proving justification on the balance of probabilities. As far as the court is concerned, (Mohd) Nazlan’s (Mohd Ghazali) judgment is still standing as it was affirmed by the Court of Appeal,” she said.

Nazlan was the High Court judge who found Najib guilty in the SRC case. He has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

‘Lackadaisical attitude’

Azimah said in regard to Apandi’s testimony in court against Lim for the civil suit, the former AG’s oral evidence did not help his own case against the DAP stalwart.

She said the court found it perplexing that Apandi testified he was at the time satisfied with the explanation that the money which flowed into Najib’s account was a donation from Arab royalty.

Azimah said the court found Apandi’s decision to absolve Najib as “perplexing” and the story of the donation from the unnamed Arab donor as “fantastical”.

The judge pointed out that the plaintiff’s (Apandi) testimony displayed a “lackadaisical attitude” in regard to why the then AG refused mutual legal assistance (MLA) from Swiss and American authorities over the global probe into the 1MDB affair.

“The court is confounded by the plaintiff’s insistence on the donation story. The plaintiff showed a disinterested attitude on whether his delegation (from the Attorney-General’s Chambers) met the donor (during an official trip to Saudi Arabia as part of the probe in 2015).

“This court is perplexed by the plaintiff’s inability to name the donor. This is a common feature of the plaintiff’s testimony before this court.

“It is bizarre the plaintiff was not aware of (who was the) fabled donor,” Azimah noted.

Qualified privilege defence

The judge added that Lim succeeded in also raising the defence of qualified privilege against Apandi’s civil suit.

Under the law for a defamation suit, qualified privilege is a defence that applies in a situation where the words were issued by a person who has an interest or a legal, social or moral duty to do so.

Azimah noted that Lim had a duty as a lawmaker to raise the 1MDB issue as numerous complaints were lodged with proper channels for years prior to 2018 without any proper resolution.

The judge then made reference to the multi-agency task force – comprising the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the police, MACC, and Bank Negara Malaysia in 2015.

“Complaints on the 1MDB scandal had been lodged with the proper channels for years. The rakyat was calling for transparency to unravel the 1MDB scandal.

“The task force was set up to probe and give recommendations on how to curtail the 1MDB scandal.

“But apparently these complaints to the proper channels for years have fallen on deaf ears until the plaintiff relinquished his post as AG and the (previous BN) administration fell in 2018.

“No person was prosecuted for the 1MDB scandal during the plaintiff’s tenure as AG,” Azimah noted.

Apandi was represented by lawyer M Visvanathan while counsel Ramkarpal Singh and Sangeet Kaur Deo acted for Lim.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/622153

..

I have instructed my lawyers, Ramkarpal Singh of Karpal Singh & Co. to accept service of the RM10 million plus defamation suit by the former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

When I read of Apandi’s suit in media yesterday, I have not received Apandi’s statement of claim.

Apandi is asking for RM10 million damages, as well as other damages, for one line in my statement of May 6 during the Sandakan by-election this year where I had asked him to explain why he “aided and abetted” in the 1MDB scandal.

I will contest Apandi’s suit, but it is a matter of relief that Malaysians now will have the opportunity to get answers why Apandi had been totally inactive as Malaysian Attorney-General after the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) filed its largest kleptocratic forfeiture suit (US$1.7 billion out of US$4.5 billion 1MDB-linked assets) over the 1MDB scandal.

Three events in the past five days are foremost in my mind when I think of Apandi’s suit.

Today, it was reported that Hollywood producer Joey McFarland had surrendered several gifts he received from Riza Aziz, the stepson of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, which were allegedly acquired using stolen 1MDB funds.

According to Bloomberg, the items include a vintage French King Kong poster, a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting and several luxury watches.

The value of the items was not stated, but according to the US Department of Justice forfeiture suit, Riza allegedly spent US$5.4 million (RM22.18 million) on collectable movie posters, some of which he gave to McFarland, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and film director Martin Scorsese.

McFarland and Riza co-founded Red Granite Pictures, which financed the film The Wolf of Wall Street starring DiCaprio and directed by Scorsese. The DOJ claimed that Red Granite used stolen 1MDB funds to finance the film.

Last year, the company agreed to pay US$60 million (RM246.5 million) to settle the case, without admission of liability.

Secondly, reports that the board of trustees of the Yayasan Rahah, which was named in Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) 1MDB-related civil forfeiture suit, is seeking an out of court settlement over the matter.

Yayasan Rahah, which is named after former premier Najib Abdul Razak’s mother Rahah Mohammad Noah, runs welfare and education programmes for children and the Orang Asli.

It is among 41 individuals and groups from whom MACC is seeking to forfeit assets worth a total of RM270 million.

According to court documents, the suit against Yayasan Rahah is seeking to forfeit RM839,489.82.

Thirdly, the US Department of Justice is investigating Germany’s Deutsche Bank over its involvement in the 1MDB scandal.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the probe will look into whether Deutsche Bank violated foreign corruption or anti-money-laundering laws when it helped 1MDB raise US$1.2 billion in 2014.

All these three episodes in the past five days raise a common question: Why was Apandi inactive on the 1MDB scandal when he was Attorney-General?

In fact, when the US DoJ first filed its kleptocratic litigation of forfeiture of 1MDB-linked assets in July 2016, I had occasion to ask Apandi to explain why the 17-point Q&A on the Malaysian Attorney-General’s Chambers website on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) legal suits for forfeiture of 1MDB-linked assets in the United States had been taken down two days after it was uploaded.

Although the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was not named in the DOJ suits, a person referred to as “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” was mentioned 36 times – a person who was identified as the Prime Minister.

As the AGC’s 17-point Q&A as good as acknowledged that “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” was Najib, I had asked Apandi to explain why the Attorney-General’s Chambers sought to rebut only 17 of the references to “MALAYSIA OFFICIAL 1” in the US DOJ suits and not to all the 36 references although all the 17 rebuttals were unsatisfactory and unconvincing.

When in June 2017, Apandi reacted in a matter of hours to the expanded US DoJ kleptocratic forfeiture litigation of 1MDB-linked assets, and said there was nothing new and to expressed his regret about “insinuations” against the then Prime Minister in the DOJ’s expanded 1MDB forfeiture suit, I had informed Apandi that they were not “insinuations” but “open and direct charge by the United States Government that the Prime Minister had lied when he claimed that the RM2.6 billion donations had come from Saudi Arabian royalty”.

Noting that Apandi must be quite a speed reader, I asked whether he had read the ten “killer paragraphs” – Paragraph 339 to 348 under the section “$681 MILLION WAS TRANSFERRED FROM THE TANORE ACCOUNT TO AN ACCOUNT BELONGING TO MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” – in the US DOJ’s latest 1MDB kleptocratic suit to forfeit 1MDB-linked assets because of the crime of money-laundering.

This was because the “killer paragraphs” in the US DoJ suit as good as linked Najib Razak’s RM2.6 billion “donations” to 1MDB money-laundering, debunking the claim that they were donations from Saudi Arab royalty and that US$620 million had been returned to Saudi Arabian donor.

There was only thunderous silence from Apandi at the time.

Now, we can get the answers in the courts.

(Media Statement (2) by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 16th July 2019)

I have instructed my lawyers to accept service of Apandi’s suit giving Malaysians at last the opportunity to get answers why Apandi had been totally inactive as Malaysian Attorney-General after the US DoJ’s largest kleptocratic forfeiture suit over 1MDB scandal

.

.

Ex-AG Apandi files RM10 million defamation suit against Kit Siang

..

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s