Controversy over decision to discharge Riza Aziz should end with AG’s statement, says Sri Ram
Kuala Lumpur, Sijoripost.com – The controversy surrounding the decision to discharge film producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz over money laundering charges should end with the Attorney General’s statement, says the case’s lead prosecutor.
Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram (pic), who led the prosecution against the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, responded briefly when asked to comment on Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun’s statement on Sunday (May 17).
“Once (the) AG has made a statement, that is the end of the matter,” said the former federal court judge in a text message to The Star.
On Thursday (May 14), Riza was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Sessions Court here over five counts of money laundering involving US$248mil (RM1.25bil) linked to the controversial 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Following the court’s decision, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement that the government was expected to recover overseas assets worth an estimated US$107.3mil (RM465.3mil) following an agreement struck between the prosecution and the accused.
It also said that the agreement, through representation to the authorities, was a decision considered and agreed to by former AG Tan Sri Tommy Thomas.
Thomas, however, denied this in his statement to a news portal.
On Saturday (May 16), Thomas came out again giving his version of the story after the MACC said it stood by its first statement.
In a statement issued by the Attorney General’s Chambers on Sunday morning, Idrus said Thomas had “in principle” agreed to the terms of settlement with Riza over his money laundering charges related to 1MDB funds.
Idrus, who took office in March this year after Thomas resigned a month earlier, said he acted upon the advice of his predecessor’s position on the case.
“I have been further advised that Sri Ram, in consultation with the then MACC chief commissioner 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,” said Idrus.
The letter of representation by Riza’s solicitors had sought for a review of the criminal charges against their client by proposing among others that the properties and monies seized from Riza be forfeited to the government.