The Federal Court today dismissed the prosecution’s appeal to forfeit money and properties totalling about RM37 million owned by two individuals and seven companies that managed the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project.
A three-member bench ruled that the prosecution in forfeiture cases need only prove on a balance of probabilities and not on a beyond reasonable doubt standard.
“In the instant case, the prosecution failed to prove their case on the balance of probabilities to satisfy all the essential requirements under the law,” said Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, who delivered the verdict through a virtual proceeding.
Judges Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Zabariah Mohd Yusof were the other two judges who heard submissions from lawyers and deputy public prosecutors in June.
Hasnah said in order to prove its case, the prosecution must present proper affidavits or bring in witnesses to court.
In the present case, it only presented an affidavit by a deputy public prosecutor and two police officers to forfeit the money and property.
She said merely stating the facts from scanty documentary evidence was insufficient, adding that there were serious gaps in the affidavits in light of the mandatory requirement under Section 56 (1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing 2001 (AMLATFA).
“We have read the affidavits in its entirety and agree with the Court of Appeal that the prosecution failed to identify the nature and extent of participation of the respondents in money laundering activities to procure the properties,” Hasnah said.
On the contrary, she said, the respondents in their affidavit-in-reply explained in detail through documents to justify the properties were acquired through legal means.
On Nov 23, 2010, the prosecution applied in the High Court to forfeit money and properties of Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing and Law Ka Hing as well as Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB), Transshipment Megahub Bhd, Coastal Skyline Sdn Bhd, Wijaya Baru Aviation Sdn Bhd, Wijaya Baru Sdn Bhd, Wijaya Baru Construction Sdn Bhd and the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) under Section 56 of AMLATFA.
The prosecution filed the said application on the basis that the money and properties had been obtained as a result of or in connection with an offence under subsection 4 (1) of AMLATFA.
That provision states that any person who engages in, or attempts to engage in or abets the commission of money laundering commits an offence and shall upon conviction be liable to a fine or jail or both.
Among the properties the government attempted to forfeit were money in bank accounts and two pieces of land.
In 2011, the High Court dismissed the prosecution’s forfeiture application and ordered that the money and properties be released to the respondents.
Three years ago, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision.
Prem Ramachandran and Porres Royan represented KDSB, Transshipment Megahub, Coastal Skyline, Wijaya Baru Aviation, Wijaya Baru and Wijaya Baru Construction.
K Kumaraendran appeared for Tiong and Law, and Shamsul Sulaiman for PKNS.
Deputy public prosecutors Faizah Salleh, Nahra Dollah, Hanim Mohd Rashid and Allan Suman Pillai represented the prosecution.
Source: Free Malaysia Today