Kuala Lumpur, Dec 13 – The acquittal of former managing director of Maxbiz Corp Bhd Datuk Vincent Leong Jee Wai and substantial shareholder Datuk Andrew Leong Wye Keong yesterday was not reported by many news but it can mark a significant sign of change in the country’s judiciary.
Vincent who is said to be related to an MP of Pakatan Harapan, and close to a former UMNO politician and Andrew who has history with the opposition going back to Reformasi days, were both charged with insider trading in May 2017.
Whilst no one reported back then that their prosecution were politically-motivated (possibly due to fear of the then government Barisan Nasional), many in the business world knew that the charges were political.
Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court discharged and acquitted both of them on Oct 17, following after the Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, who decided not to pursue the case after finding little grounds for the charges.
Speculative and circumstantial evidence
The Star reported on Dec 12 that in dropping the charges against the accused parties, Thomas said there were two reasons for his decision:
- There was publicly available information at the time of each disposal which could rationally justify each disposal made by the second accused.
- There is insufficient evidence in any event that the first accused (Vincent) communicated any insider information to the second accused (Andrew). The evidence is speculative and circumstantial – it would not suffice to justify a conviction on a criminal burden.
“The accused parties apparently communicated constantly between July 8, 2010 and Feb 10, 2011 – their communication immediately prior to each disposal was therefore not out of character in their relationship,
“Certainly, it would be nigh impossible to convict on a ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard of proof.” Tommy Thomas was quoted by the daily.
Tommy’s statement begs for a huge question that no one seems to be asking. If it would be nigh impossible to convict on a ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard of proof, then why were they even charged in the first place? Was there prima facie?
SC must be investigated for these prosecutions
Is this not proof that there were malfeasance in the act of charging them? It can’t simply be incompetence.
The Kangaroo Court of the Securities Commission headed by former Chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh and prosecution team must had known that the evidence they had, were not of the standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. And yet they were going after many opposition-friendly businessmen in helping alleged-kleptocrat Datuk Seri Najib Razak to stay in power via weakening the support of Pakatan from the business world.
Is it mere coincidence that the Najib’s administration were going after Pakatan-friendly businessmen? NMT think not because there were other cases that if SC were to apply the same method of prosecuting, they should have prosecuted companies like 1MDB but they did not.
Another case NMT highlighted recently was Top Glove, where its chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai sits on the Board of Employees Provident Fund but at the same time EPF became the largest institutional investor in Top Glove. Why was there no charges or investigations against them? Lim was proven to be a supporter of Najib as we had reported in our article dated December 7.
Selective prosecutions on Pakatan-friendly businessmen
NMT had previously highlighted few cases of politically motivated charges, and this Maxbiz case is among them. Other cases we highlighted were Kencana Petroleum (linked to Mokhzani Mahathir), Kosmo Technology (linked to Mukhriz Mahathir), and Supermax duo, Datuk Seri Stanley Thai Kim Sim and Datin Seri Cheryl Tan Bee Geok.
NMT took a close look at Datin Seri Cheryl’s case and learned that the evidence used to convict her were telco phone records between her and her sister. Such regular phone calls are not out of character in any sibling-relationship, let alone when there were family urgency around that time.
No call recordings or any other evidence that proved that non-public information was communicated between them, and that made the phone logs evidence speculative and circumstantial, creating reasonable doubt and therefore making the conviction questionable.
Support opposition and suffer backlash
Cheryl’s husband, Stanley Thai on the other hand, came out strongly in support of Pakatan Rakyat during the run up to the 13th General Election in 2013.
That act to support the then opposition was repaid not-so-kindly by the Barisan Nasional government with insider trading charge and he was later convicted, fined and sentenced to prison for 5 years.
Both husband and wife’s cases are on appeal but with this latest development of Maxbiz, perhaps we can expect to see the prosecution taking proper ‘Rule of Law’ approach.
Some judges are central to many politically-linked cases
The case of Kosmo Technology was last reported in May this year where the directors who were acquitted in September 2016 of submitting false company report to Bursa, were ordered to enter defence after Judge Azman Abdullah allowed the prosecution’s appeal to set aside the Sessions Court’s decision to acquit. Judge Azman Abdullah is a High Court judge who is central to many politically-linked cases.
This happened after the 14th General Election but before Tommy Thomas was appointed as AG in June. NMT will report further on the development of the case in future.
Another case that seemed politically-motivated was the case of Kencana Petroleum a company previously linked to Mokhzani Mahathir. Former Prime Minister Najib had also in the past attacked Mokhzani out in the open saying that he bagged billions worth of contracts from Petronas.
“That is fake news. SapuraKencana was only set up in 2012. My father was no longer the PM then. It was Najib who was the PM at that time. My father was only the advisor to Petronas but there is a board of directors. I was not the major shareholder of then SapuraKencana. You are saying the contracts were given when there is a board chairman that reports to you, and you did not know? I don’t understand,” Mokhzani was quoted saying by The EdgeMarkets in May this year.
But in Najib’s defense, he is famous for saying “I don’t know”, and that is absolutely beyond reasonable doubt.
In July 2016, the Securities Commission charged former Executive Director of Kencana Petroleum Bhd, and two other individuals with insider trading. Yeow Kheng Chew (Yeow), 64, was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court for acquiring 1,159,000 shares on 8 July 2011 whilst in possession of inside information.
These charges were read out before Sessions Court Judge Tuan Zulqarnain Bin Hassan, a Sessions Court judge who is also central to many politically-linked cases, including the Supermax duo and Maxbiz.
The case was withdrawn according to reports in August 2017 under the instruction of the then AG, Tan Sri Apandi Ali. NMT could not confirm the reason for withdrawing the charges. We are however very sure that the case was never one that could be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Get Out of Jail Deals
Coincidentally, sources revealed that a close confidante of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and a young lawyer, were at the time running a scheme using the name and influence of Rosmah and Apandi, to sell deals deals akin to “Get-Out-Jail-Card” costing millions transacted outside of Malaysia to keep businessmen out of jail.
Another source revealed that one ‘money game’ company paid hundreds of millions to avoid criminal charges.