4 Genneva ex-directors get jail, fine

PUTRAJAYA: Four former directors of defunct gold bar investment company, Genneva Sdn Bhd, were each sentenced to eight years' jail and a RM1 million fine by the Court of Appeal today.

The four, Ng Poh Weng, 67, Marcus Yee Yuan Seng, 65, Chin Wai Leong, 41, and Liew Chee Wah, 63, had been found guilty of 224 counts of money laundering on Dec 12 last year.

However, the number of charges were reduced from 224 to 156 earlier this month, while two more were dropped today.

Subsequently, Ng faced 68 charges while Yee faced 28, and Chin and Liew faced 46 and 12 charges respectively.

The four were each sentenced to five years' imprisonment and fined RM1 million, in default one year's jail, under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) and another three years' jail under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla).

They were ordered to serve the sentences consecutively from today as their application for a stay of execution was denied.

Meanwhile, their company Genneva Sdn Bhd was convicted on five counts of receiving deposits from the public without a licence and fined RM2 million under Bafia.

The sentences were unanimously handed down by a three-man panel comprising Datuk Mohtarudin Baki (chair), Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam and Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil.

Mohtarudin said the panel found that the prosecution, on behalf of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.

"Given that the amount of money involved was huge and the seriousness of the offence, we have decided the sentence would be as delivered," said Mohtarudin.

He also denied an application by defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for a stay and an interim stay until tomorrow.

In mitigation, Shafee urged the court to take into consideration that the buying and selling of gold products were not regulated until 2013.

"They had consulted BNM on this and BNM had no objection to it," Shafee told the court, pointing out also that the number of charges were inconsistent as it had been reduced.

He pleaded for leniency and and asked that only a fine be imposed as this was the first offence for the four, adding that most of them had health complications due to their age.

However, deputy public prosecutor Hamdan Hamzah asked the court to impose seven years' imprisonment separately under Bafia and Amla, and for a fine of RM1 million each, given the seriousness of their offence.

On Dec 12 last year, the Court of Appeal had overturned a High Court decision and convicted the four of 224 counts of money laundering, and the company on five counts of receiving deposits from the public without a licence.

They allegedly committed the money laundering offences at Menara Public Bank, 146 Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur between July 2008 and June 2009, and the illegal deposit-taking offences at the company's premises in Jalan Kuchai Maju 6, Kuala Lumpur, between November 2008 and July 2009.

The Kuala Lumpur sessions court had on May 16, 2013, acquitted the four after ruling that the defence had succeeded in raising reasonable doubt.

On Sept 20, 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court upheld sessions court decision to acquit them after ruling that the investment company was only carrying out physical buying and selling and that there was no evidence to show that the company had accepted deposits from the public illegally.