KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan is eligible to run for public office in the next election despite paying a RM1.1 million penalty, his lawyers said after he was acquitted of two money laundering charges today.
Law firm Tetuan Sharul Hamidi & Haziq which represented the Umno lawmaker said the payment was not a court fine, nor an admission of guilt.
The law firm said it had written to the Election Commission (EC) back in February before the money laundering charges were transferred to the High Court, seeking clarification on the status of Members of Parliament and the eligibility to contest elections in accordance with Article 48A (1) (e) of the Federal Constitution on the issue of compound payments.
“The Election Commission responded to the letter on February 9, 2021 stating that it would refer to the Attorney General’s Chambers for its view.
“The reply letter from the Election Commission regarding our above inquiry was answered on May 5, 2021 with a positive reply that the client in making the compound payment (not the court fine) would not affect his eligibility as a Member of Parliament and would not be disqualified from contesting a parliamentary seat in the coming elections.
“This positive response led to the lawyer’s decision to assess the payment of the compound as the best solution for the case against him,” the legal firm said in a statement.
According to Tetuan Sharul Hamidi & Haziq, the RM1.1 million payment is a settlement that is in accordance with the law that went through a transparent and orderly process.
“This settlement process is solely for the purpose of this case and has nothing to do with any political or external factors and does not involve any person or agency other than the investigation agency and prosecution agency involved,” the law firm said.
It added that the payment was settled with the aid of Ahmad’s supportive “friends”, who were not named.
The High Court acquitted Ahmad earlier today after the prosecution withdrew the two charges, national news agency Bernama reported.
The first charge concerned an allegation that he failed to declare RM2 million received from then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to the Inland Revenue Board in 2014.
The second charge concerned an allegation that Ahmad gave false statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in 2019 on the tax matter.
Ahmad has been Pontian MP since 2008 and is also the current Umno secretary-general.
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