KUALA LUMPUR (April 5): The prosecution should not have sought the forfeiture of a bungalow in Tanjung Bungah, Penang owned by Puan Sri Goh Gaik Ewe, the mother of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, as it has nothing to do with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Goh's counsel M Puravalen told the High Court the house was built on two plots of land in Penang and the construction began in 1990.

"The applicant (prosecution) lacks explanation and (did not) produce substantial evidence to support their allegations that Goh was involved or participated in any illegal transaction or activity.

"Goh owns the said property at Tanjung Bunga Park, Tanjung Tokong but the notice of seizure was issued and served on the Penang Land office. They say based on their investigation and the description of the purported money trail, (the property is) said to be connected to the misappropriated funds from 1MDB.

"However, no averments were made regarding the house and there was no explanation (on) how the house is related to any illegal proceeds or misappropriated funds," said the senior counsel.

As such, Puravalen said the prosecution representing the government has failed to establish any facts explaining the involvement of the house in the predicate offence or any unlawful activities.

"Goh contended that the house should not be the subject matter of the ongoing forfeiture proceedings," he said, adding the house was seized by the authorities issued by Deputy Public Prosecutor Syafinas Shabudin on Jan 17, 2019.

He added that the house was erected on two plots of land in the Tanjung Bungah district, which Goh purchased back in 1990.

Puravalen further produced the sale and purchase agreements to both pieces of land and said the documents clearly showed the registration of transfer occurred on July 11, 1990 and Aug 4, 1993.

"The documents incontrovertibly demonstrate that both properties were bought and transferred way back in 1990 and 1993 respectively," he said, adding that it should not be subject to the present forfeiture action.

Puravalen said this in his submissions in the government's forfeiture of more than RM31 million worth of properties and assets belonging to former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, their two children Noor Ashman and Nooryana Najwa, Najib's step-son Riza Aziz, and 13 others, including the 68-year-old Goh.

Govt wants to seize RM1.099 million cash from Goh

Besides Goh's home, the government also intends to seize monies in her three Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HLBB) accounts, which were deposited between 2013 and 2017.

These include a deposit of RM328,428.32 on Oct 13, 2016 and another RM340,704.64 noted as credit advice in her HLBB 0371 account; a deposit of RM360,000 in the 3584 HLBB account in 2017; and deposits of RM33,649.58 and RM36,631.07 in the 5704 HLBB account in 2013.

All the funds, which amount to RM1.099 million, are said to be from 1MDB. However, Puravalen countered that the prosecution and the police commercial crime did not provide any documentary evidence to explain that these deposits originated from illegal sources or were related to the commission of an offence.

He said the affidavit in support did not explain the deposits in those bank accounts of his client.

"There was no money trail or movement of money described by either of the investigating officers to support their contention that the deposits were proceeds of illegal activity/crime," Puravalen said.

The senior lawyer said the prosecution relied heavily on the presumption that since Goh is an "absconded person", the monies in her bank accounts are funds from illegal sources.

Puravalen said the government relied on Sections 63 and 64 of the Anti Money Laundering, Anti Terrorism Financing and Proceeds from Unlawful Activity 2001 that allowed the forfeiture; however, he argued that those two sections do not apply to his client as there is no investigation into her nor has there been a serious charge levelled on Goh.

He cited a press statement by the police on this that no investigation was being conducted into Goh.

For these reasons, Puravalen said the prosecution has failed to prove their case on the balance of probabilities and the lack of explicit explanation on the linkage between the properties sought meant that the application for a forfeiture of the immovable property and the bank accounts should be dismissed and returned to her.

Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan fixed April 23 for continued hearing of the forfeiture application.

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