Prosecutors Drop Charges Of Laundering RM1.25 Bil Of 1MDB Money Against Najib's Stepson
On Thursday, 14 May, prosecutors dropped money laundering charges worth RM1.25 billion linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal against Najib Razak's stepson, Riza Abdul Aziz
Riza, who is Rosmah's son from her first marriage, has been given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court over money laundering charges.
He was charged with five counts of money laundering in July 2019 over allegations that he received USD248 million (RM1.25 billion) misappropriated from the scandal-hit 1MDB fund.
According to reports, the prosecution and the defence reached an agreement to drop the charges after the 'Wolf of Wall Street' producer agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of funds in a settlement to the Federal Government, following which Sessions Court judge Azman Ahmad made the DNAA ruling.
"An agreement has been arrived at between the prosecution and the accused under the terms of which the Federal Government will receive a substantial sum running into several million ringgit," Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gopal Sri Ram, who led the prosecution, read a statement to the court.
The DNAA allows Riza a "conditional release"
What this basically means is that Riza is allowed to walk away after paying a compound under which the Federal Government is expected to recover overseas assets involved in the offence, which is estimated at USD107.3 million (RM465.3 million), according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Prosecutors can reinstate the charges "if there is no satisfactory completion of the agreement".
MACC added the decision was agreed by former attorney-general Tommy Thomas, a claim the former A-G has since denied, saying there was "no agreement to drop charges" against Riza.
"I resigned two and a half months ago and up to that point...So, it is wholly untrue and fabrication to say that I had agreed to the decision," Thomas was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight, adding that he is "terribly disappointed" with the anti-graft agency's "false statement".
However, seeing how Riza's lawyers have declined to reveal the terms of the settlement, who decides what the "satisfactory completion of the agreement" means is anyone's guess.
Why did the public prosecutor ask for the DNAA against Riza?
Well, the reasons may vary as, under Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the public prosecutor may decline to prosecute an accused further at any stage he thinks fit.
What this means is that while the accused — Riza — is discharged, he is not acquitted of the charge "unless the Court so directs", as stated under Section 254(3).
Further, Riza's trial can be reinstated as provided under Section 254A.
Back in February 2019, Riza's stepfather Najib was given a DNAA on three additional charges of money laundering totalling RM47 million
However, Najib was charged again with the same three counts of money laundering.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, Najib was heard seeking to clear Riza's name in one of the nine audio tapes released by MACC:
Several UMNO leaders, now part of the government, are undergoing graft trials. There is concern that they would be set free: