MACC files application to obtain documents from lawyers involved in 1MDB settlement

16 Oct 2023 05:49pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has requested to obtain documents from two lawyers suspected of accepting bribes and receiving proceeds from unlawful activities in the settlement between the Malaysian government with Ambank and Goldman Sachs regarding the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue.

The request was made in two applications filed at the High Court last Oct 11.

The MACC named Chetan Jethwani and his law firm, Chetan Jethwani & Co, as the respondents in one of the applications, while Rosli Dahlan and Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership were named the respondents in the other application.

Chetan is the lawyer for Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a civil case, while Rosli represented the former prime minister in a case related to the Jana Wibawa project.

Through the documents obtained by the media, the MACC requested the respondents to submit 10 documents, including their letters of appointment as lawyers for Goldman Sachs (Chetan) and 1MDB (Rosli), their bank account statements and also the bank account statements of their companies.

Based on the supporting affidavit by MACC Investigating Officer Mohamad Sabri Mohd Latif in the applications, investigations against the two respondents are being carried out under Section 17 (a) of the MACC Act 2009, as well as Section 4(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

He said that last Oct 6, MACC Senior Superintendent Muhammad Firdaus Ahmad Sabry and Mohd Farid Ismail went to the office of the two legal firms to provide information regarding the investigation being carried out by the commission.

"For that purpose, the two officers handed an order under Section 31 (1) of the MACC Act 2009 (Act 694) to inspect, search the premises and confiscate documents.

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"However, the respondents said they could not provide the requested documents as they are subject to Section 46 of the MACC Act 2009 together with Section 126 of the Evidence Act 1950.

"The two respondents insisted that the order under Section 31 (1) is invalid and if the MACC wants to obtain any documents from their legal premises, the MACC has to apply for a High Court order under Section 46 of the MACC Act 2009 before searching or taking any documents from their premises,” he said.

According to Mohamad Sabri, the document is also needed to identify the role and actions of the two lawyers, who are suspected of conspiring with Goldman Sachs and the parties concerned in implementing a scheme that reduces the amount of the asset recovery in the settlement on the amount to be paid to the Malaysian government.

"Also, the document is needed to identify the transaction of receipt of the bribe money and the flow of money as well as the "layering" that took place from the Goldman Sachs account to the account of the two law firms in question," he said.

Meanwhile, Chetan, in his affidavit in reply, claimed that there were clear procedural defects in the application, which included that the applicant was the MACC and not the public prosecutor.

He said the power to search and seize according to Section 31 of the MACC Act must be carried out by the public prosecutor.

According to the lawyer, there was no agreement by Goldman Sachs to pay about US$9.7 billion as the agreed amount and terms of payment in the settlement were confidential.

"In the first negotiation, the Malaysian government was represented by (the then Attorney-General) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, Ganesan Nithi from Thomas’ legal firm and Rohayu, who was the special officer to the Attorney General at that time. However, at this negotiation, no agreement was reached.

"Through the second and third negotiations, the Malaysian government was represented by various enforcement and government agencies, including the Attorney-General's Chambers, the Malaysian Securities Commission, the National Financial Crime Prevention Centre and the Treasury Division of the Ministry of Finance," he said.

He also stated that the settlement agreement was signed by Treasury Director-General Datuk Asri Hamidon and then Minister of Finance, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who is now the Investment, Trade and Industry Minister.

The case involving Chetan came up for mention today before High Court Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin, who then set Nov 9 to hear the prosecution's application to transfer the case to another High Court to be heard together with the case involving Rosli.

Through a review of the court system, the case involving Rosli will be heard before Judge K. Muniandy tomorrow. - BERNAMA