Umno’s legal adviser Mohd Hafarizam Harun today walked free from an RM15 million money laundering case after the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court discharged and acquitted the senior lawyer over the three money laundering charges.
The accused’s counsel Amin Othman confirmed that judge Suzana Hussin granted the acquittal order.
Earlier during the proceedings, the prosecution had applied to withdraw the three money laundering charges against Hafarizam.
Hasnal Rezua Merican, who also represented Hafarizam, then applied for the lower court to grant an acquittal and discharge to the accused, as he (Hafarizam) had paid a compound of RM590,587.26 to the MACC yesterday.
The compound is made under Section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUAA).
Section 92 relates to the power of a competent authority or relevant enforcement agency to compound offences under the act.
The judge then granted the acquittal to Hafarizam.
According to the three charges, Hafarizam was alleged to have received the funds from former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak between April 2014 and February 2015.
He was first charged on Feb 21, 2019. It was reported that he later sent a letter of representation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Under the law, a letter of representation is a way for an accused to seek a way to resolve a criminal charge, either via proposing an acquittal or pleading guilty to a lesser charge, among others.
In a press statement issued later today, Hafarizam said the attorney-general agreed to retract the charges.
“For over two years, I was shackled by the charges that were selectively prosecuted by the previous attorney-general.
“Today, I express thanks to Attorney-General Idrus Harun who has considered, without fear and favour, to withdraw the charges against me.
“I am also thankful to MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki for the assistance given,” the lawyer said.
Hafarizam said despite the charges alleging that he received monies from 1MDB and its former subsidiary SRC International into a client’s account via his law firm Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak, he contended that the monies were not for the benefit of himself or the firm.
He claimed that every sen received from his client that went into the client account (maintained by the law firm), was kept and issued to a third party on the direction of the client in the capacity of a stakeholder.
“These kinds of transactions are routine to all lawyers and are valid and not wrong under the law.
“I wish to state that I was selectively prosecuted. This is so as many lawyers do the same type of transactions like me but were not charged at court,” Hafarizam claimed.
The first charge alleged that an RM7.5 million AmIslamic Bank Berhad cheque, belonging to Najib, was deposited into the account of Hafarizam’s then law firm on April 17, 2014.
This charge comes under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act (AMLATFA), which provides a fine of not more than RM5 million or a jail term not more than five years or both if convicted.
The second charge involved an RM4 million AmIslamic Bank Berhad cheque belonging to Najib, which was also allegedly deposited into the account of Hafarizam’s then law firm on Nov 12, 2014.
This charge comes under Section 4(1)(b) of AMLATFPUAA, which provides for imprisonment up to 15 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of the proceeds from unlawful activities or RM5 million, whichever is higher, if found guilty.
The third charge involved an RM3.5 million AmIslamic Bank Berhad cheque belonging to Najib, which was purportedly deposited into the account of the same legal firm between Jan 22, 2015, and Feb 12, 2015.
This third charge also comes under the same provision of the same act as the second charge.
AMLATFA was the previous act before an amendment leading to AMLATFPUAA.