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Prosecution in forfeiture hearing denies RM114m belongs to Umno, reveals unaudited account for political donations

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 10): The prosecution in the forfeiture hearing of the police raid at the Pavilion condominium three years ago told the High Court that the RM114.16 million cash sought by Umno and its former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak could not have been the party's money as some of its leaders have denied knowledge of it.

There were statements taken by the police from several Umno leaders, like former secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, and treasurers Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah and Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, denying any knowledge that Najib was supposed to keep the money for the 14th general elections.

Hence, the prosecution maintained that the money in question were proceeds from unlawful activity and originated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). Therefore, the prosecution is entitled to confiscate it as it claimed to be part of the US$971 million (RM2.973 billion) that was stolen from 1MDB.

The prosecution said that while the current Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had put in an affidavit to claim the cash was the party's money, that could not be the case because the RM114.16 million is not in ringgit but in various foreign currencies.

“The monies are recovered from 35 bags seized by the police as affirmed by Superintendent Foo Wei Min in his affidavit from the raid. It is also in various currencies and various denominations. Ahmad Zahid himself denied the political donations are in different currencies,” the prosecution said in submissions made yesterday as sighted by theedgemarkets.com.

To support the prosecution's case, it is understood that recorded statements of the three former Umno leaders were shown in court by the prosecution led by DPP Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi.

Revelation of Umno's secret unaudited account

Saifuddin's team — which consisted of DPPs Liew Horng Bin, Faten Hadni Khairuddin, Harris Ong Mohd Jeffrey Ong, Ahmad Farid Ahmad Kamal and Syafinas Shahbudin — further revealed the existence of Umno's secret unaudited account kept by the party in a local bank.

The prosecution said the existence of such an unaudited account is an offence under the Societies Act and it also debunked the need for Najib to personally hold such huge amounts of money in various foreign currencies.

“Ahmad Zahid, Tengku Adnan, Ahmad Husni and Salleh, who had their statements recorded, denied the existence of any political donations in the form of foreign currencies. In fact, the evidence of Umno's treasurer (not named) was that there was another unofficial, unaudited bank account that had been used by Umno since 1988 to receive political donations.

“The unaudited political donations in cash also contravenes Section 14(1)(d) and (b) of the Societies Act. The claim of Umno being the owner of the (RM114,164,393.44) [was] contradicted by the party's own witnesses in their witness statements. This claim, if true, is plainly running afoul of various provisions in its party's constitution.

“The unaccounted, unverified and unaudited nature of cash seized is also in contravention of various provisions of the Societies Act, which may result in the de-registration of Umno by the Registrar of Societies,” the prosecution added.

Najib keeping mum on donors

“Najib remains evasive and refused and is unable to disclose the donors' identity even in the present proceedings. If it is true that the seized cash are political donations, there should be no difficulty for Najib to disclose the source and identity of the donors. Being secretive about the identity of the donors is no defence in a third-party claim.

“Truth is the only defence, for truth is the ultimate defence,” the prosecution team submitted. “Truth does not change like a chameleon.”

“The feeble claim advanced by Najib and Umno that the seized cash are political donations pales in comparison with the weight of evidence which suggests otherwise. No amount of finesse could whitewash the traces of wrongdoings stemming from the cash seized.”

They added that surely, Najib is not "the Ali Baba who discovered the thieves in the Arabian Nights tale or Jim Hawkins of Treasure Island who found great fortune into his lap".

Senior counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who represents Najib, and Umno's lawyer Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh will submit their replies on March 11 and 15.

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