By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini

A financial analysis report by the MACC previously cleared former Tabung Haji chairperson Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim of corruption, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Defence counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad submitted that despite this report, his client Azeez (above) was still hauled before the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to face corruption and money laundering charges involving road projects in Kedah and Perak.

The lawyer told the Court of Appeal over Azeez’s appeal to quash his 13 corruption and money laundering charges.

The Baling MP is appealing against the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on March 12, which rejected his application to quash the three corruption and ten money laundering charges.

High Court judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin had ruled, among others, that the charges against Azeez were not defective and based on provisions of law.

However, the High Court allowed Azeez’s application to stay the main trial at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, pending the outcome of his appeal at the Court of Appeal.

During today’s online proceedings before the Court of Appeal bench chaired by judge Kamaludin Md Said, Amer submitted that the charges could not stand if the MACC’s own report stated that Azeez had not committed an offence.

“There is a report from the MACC Financial Analysis (Unit) regarding Azeez receiving lawful funds. The MACC made the finding that he received legal income,” he said.

Amer said the MACC had admitted that Menuju Asas Sdn Bhd legally employed Azeez, and therefore, he cannot be receiving unlawful proceeds from his employer.

“I submit that one cannot now blow hot and cold. On the other hand, you say he (Azeez) received lawful money, then now you say he received unlawful proceeds from the same employer.

“This report was not challenged by the MACC. None of the charges can stand under any court of law,” Amer submitted.

During the online proceedings before the Court of Appeal, the lawyer also reiterated submissions that the 13 charges against Azeez are defective and deny the appellant’s ability to understand and respond properly.

Amer contended that the 13 charges ought to be quashed as they are defective, groundless and brought against Azeez in mala fide (bad faith) by the prosecution.

The lawyer submitted, among others, that the three corruption charges are defective due to multiple different projects being listed on a single charge.

Amer contended that this goes against the legal rule of the multiplicity of charges, which require a criminal charge to only contain an alleged offence linked to a single transaction or event.

In relation to the 10 money laundering charges, the lawyer submitted that they are defective as they do not clearly state the predicate offences underlying the money laundering charges.

Under the context of anti-money laundering law in Malaysia, a predicate offence is the main offence (usually corruption) linked to a money laundering offence (the offence involving monetary or transaction trail to disguise the illegal origin of the money from the main offence).

At the end of proceedings this afternoon, the Court of Appeal fixed Oct 6 for the hearing of the prosecution’s reply to the submissions from Azeez’ legal team.

The other members of the three-person bench were judges Abu Bakar Jais and Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali.

The prosecution today consisted of deputy public prosecutors Aslinda Ahad and Nik Haslinie Hashim.

Azeez is facing three counts of accepting bribes of RM5.2 million in relation to the road projects in Kedah and Perak.

He also faces 10 counts of money laundering involving RM13.9 million, which he purportedly received from Menuju Asas.

The graft offences were allegedly perpetrated at CIMB Bank, Jalan Tun Perak, Kuala Lumpur on Dec 8, 2010, and at Affin Bank, Puchong City Centre, Selangor, on June 13, 2017, and April 10, 2018.

In relation to the money laundering charges, Azeez was alleged to have committed the offences in the Klang Valley area, between March 8, 2010, and Aug 30, 2018.

Azeez’s brother Abdul Latif was initially charged with abetting him on two counts of obtaining an RM4 million bribe, as gratification for aiding Menuju Asas to secure road projects via a limited tender from the works ministry.

However, following an application by the prosecution on Feb 8, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court granted Latif a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).