KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 7): The High Court in Johor Bahru on Sunday ordered ex-Johor executive council member Datuk Abd Latif Bandi, his son and a former real estate consultant to enter their defence against 37 corruption and money laundering charges involving more than RM30 million as the prosecution had proven a prima facie case against the accused, who were charged in 2017 for receiving bribes from property developers who requested for the change in bumiputra land status in Malaysia.

"The prosecution has successfully proven a prima facie case against all the accused," High Court Judge Datuk Abu Bakar Katar said in his written judgement, which was seen by theedgemarkets.com.

Abu Bakar on Sunday overturned the Johor Bahru Sessions Court's decision on April 21, 2019 to acquit Abd Latif, his son Ahmad Fauzan Hatim and real estate consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raub of the charges.

Following the High Court's order, the accused will have to return to the Sessions Court to enter their defence, according to Abu Bakar.

Representing the accused were their lawyers Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican and Abd Rahim Ali.

The prosecution comprised deputy public prosecutors Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Ahmad Akram Gharib, Mahadi Abdul Jumaat, Muhammad Asraf Mohamed Tahir and Zander Lim Wai Keong.

According to news reports on April 21, 2019, Johor Bahru Sessions Court Judge Kamarudin Kamsun had then acquitted the accused as the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

It was reported that Kamarudin instructed a full discharge and acquittal for the accused, and that the bail amount was to be returned immediately.

It was reported that Kamarudin said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had 14 days to appeal against the Sessions Court's decision.

According to news reports, the MACC subsequently said in a statement that the MACC would appeal at the High Court against the Sessions Court's decision to acquit the accused.

It was reported that the accused had been charged under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

A total of 33 charges under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 had been initiated against the accused while the remaining four charges against them were based on the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, according to news reports.

On Sunday (Nov 7, 2021), High Court Judge Abu Bakar said in his written judgement that the court is of the view that after looking at the evidence as a whole, Amir Shariffuddin's action could be concluded as having "bad intention" and the money paid by the housing developers "could be viewed as a bribe" based on Section 3 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act.

"The court is also of the view that Abd Latif, based on the facts of the case, had abetted Amir Shariffuddin by cooperating with and facilitating his (real estate consultant) actions for the purpose of getting the bribes from the housing developers," Abu Bakar said.

Abu Bakar said evidence from a prosecution witness showed that Abd Latif received the money from housing developers through a company known as Alaf Pentawaris Sdn Bhd of which his son Ahmad Fauzan Hatim is a director.

"This court is of the view that the prosecution had successfully proven a prima facie case against Abd Latif for abetting Amir Shariffuddin," Abu Bakar said.

He said the High Court was also satisfied, based on facts of the case, that the prosecution's appeal against the accused's acquittal from their money laundering charges should also be allowed.

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