High Court dismisses forfeiture application against Habib Jewels for alleged 1MDB-linked monies

On 13 December 2019, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the forfeiture application filed by the Public Prosecutor for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (“MACC”) against our client, Habib Jewels Sdn Bhd (“Habib Jewels”).
In June 2019, the Public Prosecutor initiated an application for an order to forfeit monies totalling RM100,000.00 which were deposited into Habib Jewels’ bank account in 2014 via a cheque issued by the then Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, under Section 56(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (“AMLATFPUA”). The main ground for the forfeiture was that the monies were the subject-matter or evidence relating to the commission of an offence of money-laundering or that such monies were the proceeds of an unlawful activity committed by Dato’ Seri Najib Razak. In particular, the Public Prosecutor alleged that Dato’ Seri Najib Razak had used his position as the Chairman of the Board of Advisors of 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”) and Minister of Finance to obtain gratification, thereby committing an offence under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.
The High Court found in favour of Habib Jewels. It held that Habib Jewels had demonstrated that the monies received from Dato’ Seri Najib Razak were received for valuable consideration in good faith for the lawful sale and purchase of jewellery. Contemporaneous documentary evidence was produced by Habib Jewels and the Public Prosecutor did not dispute this sale. There was also no allegation of collusion or wrongdoing by the Public Prosecutor against Habib Jewels. The High Court was also satisfied that there was no reason for Habib Jewels to believe that the payment for the jewellery were proceeds of an unlawful activity, given that the sale for the jewellery was made in 2014, before the allegations related to 1MDB against Dato Seri’ Najib Razak were made known to the public in mid-2015. Furthermore, there was no evidence that the financial institutions for both parties’ bank accounts which processed and effected the release of the RM100,000.00 from Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s bank account had raised any concerns about the cheque. Therefore, the High Court declined to grant the order for forfeiture against Habib Jewels in respect of the sum received from Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.
Habib Jewels was represented by our Khoo Guan Huat and Gooi Yang Shuh.