Court upholds lawyer’s acquittal on nine charges of money laundering involving RM6.5m

KUALA LUMPUR – The High Court here today upheld the Sessions Court’s decision to acquit and discharge a lawyer of nine charges including receiving, transferring and using RM6.5 million in funds allegedly derived from illegal activities, six years ago.

Judge K. Muniandy made the ruling after dismissing the prosecution’s appeal against the decision of the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Nov 30, 2022, which acquitted and discharged M. Pathmarajah, 67.

In his judgment, Muniandy said that the Sessions Court judge decided to acquit and discharge Pathmarajah as the appellant (prosecution) had failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

“This court finds that the order to discharge the accused person by the Session Court judge is correct and this court has no reason to change or interfere with the decision made by the Sessions Court judge. Therefore, the appellant’s (prosecution) appeal was dismissed,” he said.

The prosecution was conducted by Deputy Public Prosecutor Norazihah Asmuni while the respondent was represented by counsel Datuk C. Vignesh Kumar.

 The prosecution filed an appeal against the decision of the Sessions Court Judge on Nov 30, 2022, which acquitted and discharged Pathmarajah of money laundering charges at the end of the prosecution case.

A total of 24 prosecution witnesses testified at the trial.

On April 7, 2021, Pathmarajah, a partner of law firm Messrs. Mazwan Pathma & Co, was charged with three counts of receiving RM3,735,200, RM640,070 and RM2,161,330 believed to be proceeds of illegal activities, through four cheques deposited into two current accounts belonging to the law firm.

He was accused of committing the offences at the branches of Malayan Banking Berhad and Public Bank Berhad in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar Baru here, between Aug 8, 2017 and Feb 12, 2018.

He was also charged with transferring RM608,370 believed to be derived from illegal activities, from a current account at Malayan Banking Berhad belonging to Messrs. Mazwan Pathma into a fixed deposit account at the same bank belonging to the same law firm, besides issuing cheques of RM1,080,000 and RM2 million from the Malayan Banking Berhad current account to two companies, namely Mitz Luniques Sdn Bhd and Emizen Line Sdn Bhd.

The fourth to sixth counts were allegedly committed at Malayan Banking Berhad, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar Baru here between Feb 12, 2018 and April 16, 2018.

Pathmarajah was also charged with three counts, namely of transferring RM22,000, RM1,594,757 and RM1,538,484 in funds allegedly derived from illegal activities, from the law firm’s two current accounts at Public Bank Berhad and Malayan Banking Berhad into two current accounts at Malayan Banking Berhad and one current account at Public Bank Berhad belonging to the same firm between Aug 16, 2017 and March 21, 2018.

All the charges were framed under Subsection 4 (1) (b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds from Illegal Activities Act 2001 (AMLA), which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years, and a fine of not less than five times the amount or value of proceeds from the illegal activity, or RM5 million, whichever is higher, upon conviction. – BERNAMA