Riza discharged after agreement reached

Under the agreed terms, the federal govt is expected to recover overseas assets estimated at RM465.3m

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by BERNAMA

RIZA Shahriz Abdul Aziz (picture), the stepson of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, has been discharged not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) on money-laundering charges involving US$248 million (RM1.25 billion) allegedly linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Sessions Court Judge Azman Ahmad granted the DNAA after the prosecution and defence reached an agreement through representations filed by the accused, Bernama reported.

Senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said the accused had made several representations and decisions were reached after they were considered carefully.

Under the agreed terms, the federal government is expected to recover overseas assets involved in the offence, which is estimated at US$107.3 million.

“The sum has a direct reference to the subject matter of the charges framed in this case…the accused has throughout this process received adequate and competent legal representation,” Sri Ram said in a statement read out at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court yesterday.

Consequential to the agreement, the former Federal Court judge said the prosecution would not be proceeding with the charges made against Riza pending completion of the terms of the agreement.

Sri Ram added that appropriate steps would be taken to ensure full acquittal for Riza upon satisfactory completion of the terms of the agreement.

“But if there is no satisfactory completion of the agreement reached, the prosecution reserves its right to reinstate the charges and to prosecute the accused to the full limit of the law,” he said.

Riza’s defence lawyer Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh confirmed to court the agreement read by Sri Ram.

With the disposal, the judge ordered the bail of RM1 million to be returned to two bailors.

This was also ackowledged by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in a statement yesterday.

“Based on the agreement, the accused is required to pay a compound to the government under Section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which is punitive as an alternative to the charges that have been brought against him.

“The agreement between the prosecution and the accused through representation in court was a decision considered and agreed by former Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas,” the statement reads.

The court set for the case management yesterday and the trial has not yet begun.

On July 5 last year, Riza was charged with five counts of money laundering on funds channelled to Red Granite Pictures, a  Hollywood production house that he co-founded in 2010.

On the first charge, the producer of The Wolf of The Wall Street was accused of accepting proceeds from unlawful activities amounting to US$1.17 million, believed to be swindled from 1MDB, through a money transfer transaction from an account of Good Star Ltd in RBS Coutts, Zurich, Switzerland.

The alleged misappropriation occurred between April 12, 2011, and May 12, 2011, at City National Bank, Los Angeles Main, 525 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, California.

On the second charge, Riza was accused of committing a similar offence involving US$9 million via transfers from the same account on Sept 10, 2012, and Oct 10, 2012, at the same place.

The third and fourth charges involved US$133 million and US$60 million respectively transferred from an account of Aabar Investment PJS Ltd, at BSI SA, Lugano, Switzerland, to account at BSI Bank Ltd, Singapore, on June 18, 2012, and Oct 23, 2012, which belonged to Red Granite Capital Ltd.

Riza was accused of committing a similar offence amounting to US$45 million at the same place on Nov 14, 2012, under the fifth charge.

The charges were framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, which carries a fine not exceeding RM5 million or imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both, upon conviction.

Riza previously pleaded not guilty of all the charges and claimed trial.

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