PETALING JAYA: Current Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun (pix) said he has continued to negotiate with film producer Riza Aziz’s lawyers upon knowing that his predecessor Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has agreed to the settlement “in principle”.
In a statement today, Idrus said he was also advised by ad hoc public prosecutor in the case, Gopal Sri Ram, after consulting with former MACC chief Latheefa Koya, that the proposal sent by Riza’s lawyers be accepted by the anti-graft body.
“I have been advised that my predecessor Tommy Thomas, after perusing the said letter of representation (by Riza’s solicitors), via a minute dated Nov 19, 2019, to senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram, sought the views of the latter, and further stated that in light of the proposals outlined above, he is prepared to consider the representation.
“I have been further advised that Sri Ram, in consultation with the then chief commissioner of MACC, Latheefa Koya, suggested that the proposals laid down in the letter of representation be accepted by MACC. I have also been advised that Thomas had agreed to the suggestion in principle.
“This paved the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted, to take place on March 11. I shared the views of my predecessor as had been informed to me, and agreed to accept the offer that was made by Riza subject to his strict compliance with the terms and conditions,” he said.
This is despite denial by Thomas that he has agreed to the settlement.
Thomas resigned as attorney-general on Feb 28, following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government. Latheefa also resigned from the MACC on March 2.
Riza, who is former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s stepson, was accorded a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court for his five criminal charges on allegedly receiving illegal proceeds from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB on Thursday (May 14).
Idrus also said the terms of settlement proposed by Riza’s lawyers in a letter dated Nov 18, 2019 were that Riza was to surrender his rights in three properties seized by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in Beverly Hills and New York in the US and in London, as well as monies seized from him be forfeited by the Malaysian government.
“With this arrangement, the government of Malaysia is expected to recover approximately US$108 million (subject to the eventual sale proceeds of the assets and deduction of the associated costs thereof) to be credited into the 1MDB Asset Recovery Trust Account.
“This is in addition to the US$57,036,688.68 which was forfeited earlier in April 2019 from Red Granite Pictures, a company co-owned by Riza, the funds of which are traceable to 1MDB,” he said.
Riza was charged last year for allegedly receiving a total of US$248 million on five occasions between 2011 and 2012.
He was accused of committing the offences by receiving the money through the bank account of Red Granite, the Hollywood production company he co-founded.
The deal, however, is dependent on him fulfilling the terms of the agreement reached with the prosecution, which among others, necessitates the return of an estimated US$107.3 million to the Malaysian government.