Prosecution fails in bid to transfer cases of Baling MP, brother to High Court

by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA

The High Court today dismissed the prosecution’s application to transfer the corruption cases of Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (picture) and his brother Datuk Abdul Latif from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

Abdul Azeez, an Umno Council member, is facing three charges of receiving bribes amounting to RM5.2 million over a road project involving the states of Perak and Kedah, and nine counts of money laundering to the tune of nearly RM140 million, while his brother is facing two charges of abetting him.

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed the application on the grounds that the charges against the two accused under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act and Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLTFPUAA) did not appear to give rise to any novelty in points of law.

“Cases under the MACC Act and AMLTFPUAA are regularly tried by the Sessions Court throughout the country. The Sessions Courts are no less competent to try the cases against both accused,” he said.

Mohd Nazlan further said that based on records, both accused were charged in January this year and the prosecution team had only filed in the transfer application in September.

“And it was only in late September on a date already fixed for the start of the trial at the Sessions Court that the prosecution informed the Sessions Court judge that it had filed applications for transfer to the High Court.

“I fail to see how the fact that the trial will be conducted at the Sessions Courts would cause any prejudice to the both accused or the prosecution. I dismiss the application to transfer the cases to the High Court,” the judge said.

Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Baizura Kamal had told the court that it was a case of public interest and involved complex issues of the law.

“It is not a straight forward case. Abdul Azeez is a public figure and politician. So, we need to call public figure witnesses…as well as government officials to testify,” she said, noting that the defence team led by lawyers M. Athimulan and Hisyam Teh Poh Teik did not object to the transfer application.

Following the development, Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi fixed Dec 12 for the next mention date after the court was told that the High Court had dismissed the transfer bid.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nik Haslinie Hashim told the court that they will get further instructions on whether to appeal the High Court decision in dismissing the transfer.

On Jan 16, Abdul Azeez, 52, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court to accepting bribes totalling RM5.2 million in connection with the road projects, and nine counts of money laundering involving nearly RM140 million.

On the corruption charges, Abdul Azeez allegedly committed the offences at the CIMB Bank, UAB Tower branch, No. 6, Jalan Tun Perak here on Dec 8, 2010 and at Affin Bank Berhad, J-03-G, Block J, Setiawalk, Persiaran Wawasan, Pusat Bandar Puchong, Petaling, Selangor on June 13, 2017 and April 10, 2018.

On charges of money laundering, he allegedly committed the offences around the Klang Valley between March 8, 2010 and Aug 30, 2018.

The three charges are framed under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 while the nine charges, under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Illegal Activities Act 2001.

Meanwhile, Abdul Latif, 61, stands accused of two charges of abetting Abdul Azeez who allegedly received RM4 million in cash from one Mohammad Redzuan as gratification to help Syarikat Menuju Asas Sdn Bhd secure a road project through limited tender from the Works Ministry.

The project involved the Pantai Baru Coastal Expressway: Upgrading Works of Federal Road FT005 (Teluk Intan to Kampung Lekir, Perak) worth RM644,480,000.

Both offences were allegedly committed at Affin Bank Berhad, J-03-G, Block J, Setiawalk, Persiaran Wawasan, Pusat Bandar Puchong, Petaling, Selangor between June 13, 2017 and April 10, 2018.

The charges are under Section 16(a)(A) and Section 28(1)(c) of the MACC Act 2009.