Will accused persons escape trial with repayment? Pakatan asks AG after prosecution drops Ahmad Maslan’s money laundering charges

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Last Wednesday, the High Court acquitted Umno’s Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan of two charges after the prosecution withdrew them and he paid RM1.1 million. — Bernama pic
Last Wednesday, the High Court acquitted Umno’s Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan of two charges after the prosecution withdrew them and he paid RM1.1 million. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 ― Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders today urged Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun to explain his decision to withdraw money laundering charges against Umno’s Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan after he paid a RM1.1 million fine.

The four-party Opposition coalition said there has been a “worrying trend” in charges dropped against high-profile individuals allied to the government after they paid some money in the form of a compound that the accused persons were alleged to have received and which formed the crux of the case.

“The most recent one involves Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, who was being prosecuted for allegedly receiving money from Datuk Seri Najib Razak, which was believed to have been from the 1MDB fund.

“He was released even though his trial had begun, even after the media reported that in the beginning, he did not want to pay the compound and wanted the case to go to court,” the heads of PKR, DAP, Amanah and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) said in a joint statement.

The statement bore the names of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu, Lim Guan Eng and Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau who sit on the PH presidential council.

They asked the AG to clarify if the prosecution’s new standard operating procedures now allow accused persons to be released from charges if they repay some of the “case items”.

They also asked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) if similar arrangements will be offered to other people accused of corruption.

“Can MACC provide similar solutions to all corruption cases involving government supporting politicians with the reimbursement of seized items?

“In order to uphold the rule of law, this new trend by the AG and MACC clearly violates the principle that justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done,” they said.

Last Wednesday, the High Court acquitted Ahmad of two charges after the prosecution withdrew them and he paid RM1.1 million.

In the first charge, he was accused of failing to declare RM2 million received from then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the Inland Revenue Board in 2014.

The second charge concerned an allegation that Ahmad gave false statements on the tax matter to the MACC in 2019.

Ahmad’s lawyers issued a statement saying the RM1.1 million payment did not amount to a court fine, and as such the Pontian MP remains eligible to run in the next election.

According to Article 48(1) of the Federal Constitution, a person is disqualified as an MP or standing for election if he has been sentenced to not less than a year’s imprisonment or fined not less than RM2,000.

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