Attorney General Idrus Harun’s statement on the Riza Aziz case

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Attorney General Idrus Harun

Idrus Harun issued the following statement yesterday.

PP v Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz

1. Riza Shahriz Bin Abdul Aziz (Riza Aziz) was charged with five (5) money laundering offences punishable under Section 4(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (Act 613) for receiving proceeds of an unlawful activity, totalling US$248,173,104.00 linked to 1MDB between April 2011 and November 2012.

2. Since the filing of the charges, Riza Aziz has made several representations to this Chambers through his solicitors, Messrs Scivetti & Associates. I am made to understand that the chronology of correspondence between the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC)/MACC and Riza Aziz’s solicitors, before my appointment as Attorney General, is as follows:

a. On Nov 18, 2019, the solicitors sent a letter of representation to this Chambers seeking for a review of all five (5) charges against Riza Aziz in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court. The letter of representation, among others, proposed that Riza Aziz –

i. Surrender his rights in three (3) properties seized by the United States Department of Justice and for Riza Aziz to facilitate the return of the same or its value, to the government of Malaysia. The properties in question are as follows:

a. One (1) unit of bungalow located in Beverly Hills, California;

b. One (1) unit of apartment located in New York, and

c. One (1) unit of townhouse in London, United Kingdom;

ii. Agreeable to have the monies seized from him which form the subject matter in a related matter before the Kuala Lumpur High Court, be forfeited to the government of Malaysia; and

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iii. Pay a compound pursuant to section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.

I have been advised that my predecessor Tommy Thomas, after perusing the said letter of representation, via a minute dated Nov 19, 2019, to Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram, sought the views of the latter, and further stated that in light of the proposals outlined above, he is prepared to consider the representation.

I have been further advised that Gopal Sri Ram, in consultation with the then Chief Commissioner of MACC Latheefa Koya, suggested that the proposals laid down in the letter of representation be accepted by MACC. I have also been advised that Thomas had agreed to the suggestion in principle. This paved the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted, to take place.

b. On March 11, 2020, the solicitors sent another letter of representation fortifying the earlier proposal and undertook that, should Riza Aziz fail to comply with the terms and conditions, the original five (5) money laundering charges would remain. This was then presented to me after I had been made aware of Thomas’ earlier position. Having been briefed by the deputy public prosecutors in charge of the matter, I shared the views of my predecessor as had been informed to me, and agreed to accept the offer that was made by Riza Aziz subject to his strict compliance with the terms and conditions.

c. On April 16, 2020, the MACC replied to the solicitors essentially stating that the public prosecutor was willing to apply for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on all five (5) charges subject to Riza Aziz taking steps to ensure that the monies and properties seized be transferred to the government of Malaysia, and to pay a compound pursuant to Section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.

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d. On April 21, 2020, the MACC wrote to the solicitors instructing Riza Aziz to relinquish his rights, title and interest in another asset identified as the “Metropolis Poster” being a one-framed, 3-sheet colour lithograph poster created by the German artist Heinz Schulz- Neudamm for the 1927 silent film “Metropolis”.

e. On May 13, 2020, the MACC again wrote to the solicitors instructing Riza Aziz to transfer USD14,087,072.76 held in an escrow account at Huntington National Bank, USA to the government of Malaysia.

With this arrangement, the government of Malaysia is expected to recover approximately US$108 million (subject to the eventual sale proceeds of the assets and deduction of the associated costs thereof) to be credited into the 1MDB Asset Recovery Trust Account. This is in addition to the US$57,036,688.68 which was forfeited earlier in April 2019 from Red Granite Pictures, a company co-owned by Riza Aziz, the funds of which are traceable to 1MDB.

These arrangements are part of the government’s ongoing efforts to recover assets related to 1MDB. I have been informed that negotiations with several parties in the past year, especially in relation to assets located overseas, had resulted in the successful recovery and repatriation of monies which will reduce the government’s burden in repaying 1MDB’s debts. Such negotiations have been complex, requiring close cooperation with authorities abroad, and are continuing.

Idrus Bin Harun

Attorney-General/Public Prosecutor

17 May 2020

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Ban Cheng Tan
Ban Cheng Tan
19 May 2020 12.55pm

With respect, an agreement in principle is a conditional agreement. It depends on the terms and conditions being satisfactorily ironed out.

In the instant case, the terms seem to favour the accused to the detriment of our country’s fiscal standing. Can someone in authority please explain? No one should take it upon himself to say that a statement by the Attorney-General should resolve matters.

This matter involves an ex-AG being dragged into the picture, it involves billions of ringgit that can be build so many hospitals, schools, orphanages and even public libraries.

Where is the principle of reasonableness, the doctrine of proportionality, and the sense of responsibility?