Media statement by PH-DAP ADUN for Banting, Selangor LAU Weng San on 22nd June 2019 in Banting:
It was a delightful announcement from the newly minted MACC Chief Latheefa Koya yesterday when she announced that the MACC has initiated forfeiture suits against 41 respondents or recipients including political parties like UMNO, MCA, SUPP and PBRS for money amounting to RM270 million under Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).
Although it was not mentioned under which section of the Act was used to file the suit, section 56 of AMLA allows forfeiture of property where there is no prosecution, where in respect of any property seized under AMLA there is no prosecution or conviction, the Public Prosecutor may,
(1) before the expiration of twelve months from the date of the seizure, or
(2) where there is a freezing order, twelve months from the date of the freezing,
apply to a judge of the High Court for an order of forfeiture of that property if he is satisfied that such property is—(a) the subject-matter or evidence relating to the commission of such offence;
(b) terrorist property;
(c) the proceeds of an unlawful activity; or
(d) the instrumentalities of an offence.
Almost immediately yesterday after the MACC’s announcement, UMNO’s acting President Dato Mohamad Hasan commented that UMNO will contest the forfeiture suit. Wanita MCA and Pahang MCA State Liaison Committee claimed innocence that they were not informed about the incoming funds from the then Prime Minister before the 13th General Election.
Other political parties named are Sarawak United People’s Party, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah and Liberal Democratic Party of Sabah. We have not heard any of leaders of the above parties commenting on such forfeiture suit so far.
When UMNO and MCA claimed trial and innocence to the forfeiture suit, it shows that the two parties have no intention to repent from their previous mistakes and to turn over a new leaf.
As Latheefa Koya said in the press conference, MACC had indeed succeeded in making some of the respondent returning the monies as claimed after the forfeiture suit. There are also some monies being returned to the government even before the forfeiture suit, according to her statement in the press conference.
These further strengthen the belief that many of those who received the monies had genuinely admitted and acknowledged that the monies does not belong to them and shall be returned to the rightful owner of the monies. One would wonder what make UMNO and MCA so adamant in refusing to return the monies and even proceed to claim trial to the forfeiture suit?
Under s.56(2) of AMLA, the judge to whom an application is made under s.56(1) shall make an order for the forfeiture of the property if he is satisfied—
(a) that the property is(i) the subject-matter or evidence relating to the commission of an offence under subsection 4(1) or a terrorism financing offence;(b) that there is no purchaser in good faith for valuable consideration in respect of the property.
(ii) terrorist property;
(iii) the proceeds of an unlawful activity; or
(iv) the instrumentalities of an offence; and
s.56(4) also states that the court shall apply the standard of proof required in civil proceedings in determining whether the property is a property under s.56(1)(a)(i) to (iv).
Therefore, UMNO and MCA may be able to defeat the forfeiture suit if the property is a property with purchaser in good faith for valuable consideration under s.56(1)(b). However, if the properties seized are not immovable properties but merely cash monies in frozen bank accounts, I wonder if there is any purchaser in good faith for valuable consideration.
Therefore, the best for UMNO and MCA is to submit to the forfeiture suit, return the monies to the government, apologise to the people of Malaysia for the misconducts of their previous leadership and move on with heads held high. Their refusal to do this means there are the same UMNO and MCA even after the defeat.
At the same time, PAS Youth may have jumped into the gun too early and too fast in seeking for an apology for those who accused it of being one of the recipients of the laundered monies. As stated by Latheefa during the press conference, the forfeiture suit is just one of the many pragmatic ways to recovering laundered monies from the government and MACC have not finished investigation on other money trails. MACC also did not state that they have already exhausted all revenues to recover the balance of the monies. Perhaps PAS Youth can only make such statement until all dusts settle.
LAU Weng San.
Member of Selangor State Legislative Assembly for Banting, Kuala Langat.