June 15, 2024

New Malaysia Times

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Rosmah fails to disqualify judge in solar case from hearing her money laundering trial

money laundering

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s money laundering and tax evasion case will be heard before the same judge hearing her ongoing graft trial over the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project for rural schools in Sarawak. 

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan today dismissed Rosmah’s application to recuse him from presiding over the money laundering and tax evasion trial. He set the trial to begin on Jan 12, 2022.

The judge said he took great care to ensure that the wife of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would not be prejudiced in the money laundering case when references were made to the statement in the solar case because a judge was required to consider separately and independently the evidence against the accused.

“Any findings that I make in the solar case remains there. It is after all my solemn duty or of any judge, to ensure that the accused or any accused of that matter, is tried fairly as enshrined under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Justice Mohamed Zaini also cited a decision by the Federal Court in the case of Public Prosecutor versus Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor which had aptly held that a judge, unlike jurors, was trained in law to remain impartial despite reading facts relating to a case.

money laundering

The judge said Rosmah’s contention that she might be greatly prejudiced as he might possibly make a comparison between the statement and her defense, in this case, was unfounded.

“I had in the solar case when allowing the prosecution’s application to admit the statement for the purpose of impeaching the accused, ruled that no questions were to be asked pertaining to the facts of the Anti Money-Laundering (AMLA) case here.”

“In making the ruling, I held that the probative value of the issues that the prosecution intends to bring up does not outweigh the prejudicial effect that the accused may suffer.”

“In any event, the learned counsel for the respondent (Rosmah) had during the course of submissions, convinced me that the issues that the prosecution intends to adduce in relation to the statement in the solar case have no bearing on the issues in this case,” he said.

The prosecution was conducted by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram while Rosmah who was not present in court today was represented by lawyer Datuk Geethan Ram Vincent.

On Nov 2, Rosmah filed the application to recuse Justice Mohamed Zaini from presiding over her money laundering and tax evasion trial on grounds that the statements and exhibits that had been tendered before the court in the solar case could directly or indirectly influence the judge if he were to preside over the money laundering case.

Rosmah, 70, is facing 12 money laundering charges involving RM7,097,750 and five counts for failing to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board.

The offenses were allegedly committed at Affin Bank Berhad, Bangunan Getah Asli branch, ground floor, 148, Jalan Ampang here between Dec 4, 2013, and June 8, 2017, and the Inland Revenue Board, Kompleks Bangunan Kerajaan, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim here between May 1, 2014, and May 1, 2018.

The charges of money laundering were framed under Section 4(1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, punishable under Section 4(1) of the same act, which provides for imprisonment of up to 15 years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the proceeds of unlawful activity, or RM5 million, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

With regard to the tax evasion charges, made under Section 77(1) of the Income Tax Act 1967, she had failed to furnish the returns of her income for the assessment years 2013 to 2017 to the IRB director-general on or before April 30, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 without reasonable excuse, contrary to Section 112 of the law.

NMT as reported by Bernama