P Gunasegaram: Questions over Sri Ram’s deal with Riza Aziz…

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Excerpts:

Former Federal Court judge Sri Ram, who was appointed as senior DPP in the case, informed the court that since the filing of the charges, the accused had made several representations through his solicitors to the relevant authorities.

“An agreement has been arrived at between the prosecution and the accused under the terms of which the federal government will receive a substantial sum running into several million ringgit,” he added.

However, a statement by the MACC later in the day said it had been informed that it is a conditional release where the prosecution reserves the right to reinstate the charges and prosecute the accused if there is no satisfactory completion of the agreement.

“As a result, the Malaysian government is expected to recover overseas assets involved in the offence, which is estimated at US$107.3 mil (RM467 mil),” said the MACC.

What is interesting, and confusing at the same time, is that the MACC said “the agreement between the prosecution and the accused through a representation in court was considered and agreed by former attorney-general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas.”

Thomas, however, flatly denied this. “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.

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

The Edge in a report dated April 2 said that the Attorney-General’s Chambers has yet to answer a representation by Riza to review his money-laundering charges involving US$248 mil allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB funds. This was disclosed by his lawyer, Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh, when asked on the outcome of the representation. 

That lends credence to Thomas’ assertion that he had not agreed to the settlement as he had resigned more than a month earlier on Feb 28.

If the public is to believe that this is not a sweetheart deal for Riza and a softening of prosecutorial stance on 1MDB offenders, then it is incumbent on the MACC, Sri Ram  and current Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun to show how this deal is beneficial for the country as a whole. You can get whatever Riza has offered and more – much, much more through fines and still put him in prison for a very long time.

Three questions are left hanging in the air. Is this the tone that will be taken for ongoing and future prosecutions involving 1MDB post the change of government in Malaysia? Isn’t this a dangerous precedent in the prosecution of serious crimes involving billions of ringgit, especially those involving 1MDB? What is the basis for making such decisions? – May 15, 2020

P Gunasegaram is editor of Focus Malaysia. He is the author of the first book on the biggest kleptocracy the world has ever known – 1MDB:The Scandal that Brought Down a Government.

https://focusmalaysia.my/opinion/questions-over-sri-rams-deal-with-riza-aziz

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