Photo credit: Bill Oxford, Unsplash
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s bid to forfeit RM4,631,602 that was seized from a bank account belonging to Mediaedge Cia Malaysia Sdn Bhd for allegedly being linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fund scandal has failed.
The decision came after the High Court judicial commissioner, Datuk Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh dismissed the application due to the finding that the commission had failed to prove that the money was proceeds from unlawful activities.
According to Shahrir, forfeiture application is not a mechanism to compel parties that received the disputed money to return or repay the money that is no longer in their possession or their account.
“Money that can be forfeited under Section 56 of Act 613 (Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities 2001) must be money that was previously seized, where in this case, proceeds from unlawful activities,” Shahrir said.
He explained that if the money that was seized was not from unlawful activities, the law does not allow it to be forfeited.
“I find that based on the balance of probability, the applicant (MACC) has failed to prove the conditions provided under Section 56 (2) (a) (iii) and Section 56 (2) (b) of Act 613,” Shahrir said.
The application by MACC was dismissed on Thursday, 2 July 2020.
Shahrir said Mediaedge is a legitimate business entity that conducts business as a media relations service provider and the amount of RM4,631,602 was paid for the service concerned.
Based on additional statements by Shahrir, Mediaedge used the money to pay for the media slots and time purchased by ORB (ORB Solutions Sdn Bhd) under the media service agreement.
When Mediaedge’s bank account was frozen on June 29, 2018, the balance in the account was RM9,583,292.3, but the amount was not payment from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“This is specifically stated in the affidavit by Mediaedge,” Sharir said. “Unfortunately, in its affidavit, the MACC simply stated that it had no knowledge of it.”
Based on the decision, Deputy Public Prosecutor of MACC, Nik Haslinie Hashim, said the prosecution would apply to stay the release of the money to Mediaedge, which is represented by lawyers Gopal Sreenevasan and Michelle Chew Kim Lian.