KUALA LUMPUR: Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas (pix) today reiterated that he did not agree to the dropping of money laundering charges against Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Referring to a press statement by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on May 14 which stated among others that “the agreement between the prosecution and the accused through representation in court was a decision considered and agreed by the former Attorney General, Tan Sri Tommy Thomas”, the former AG insisted that this was not true.
Thomas explained that the only other decision he took in the case against Riza apart from charging him was to appoint Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to lead the prosecution team.
“Thereafter I left the day to day handling of the case to him and the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) from Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) assisting Sri Ram,” he said in a statement to the media.
Thomas said that in a letter dated Nov 18, 2019, solicitors acting for Riza submitted written representations seeking a review of the criminal charges proffered against their client.
“Written representations are received by the AGC on a daily basis from lawyers acting for accused facing criminal trials and appeals. Hence, there was nothing sinister about the sending of representations by Riza’s solicitors. Whether I personally acted in agreeing to their request for a discharge is an altogether separate issue. I did not. It is as plain and simple as that.
“This letter was passed to Gopal Sri Ram to study and to recommend a response to me,” he said.
Thomas further said that on Feb 28, he resigned as Attorney-General and until his resignation, he had not received any advice from Sri Ram.
“Thus, I did not decide on the representations of Riza prior to my resignation,” he added.
The MACC in its statement had said that the prosecution had applied to the Sessions Court for Riza to be given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) over several charges made against him on July 5, 2019 at the Sessions Court here.
It said it was a conditional discharge, whereby the prosecution had the right to reinstate the charges if the agreement reached between the prosecution and the accused was not satisfactorily completed.
“As a result, the Malaysian government is expected to recover overseas assets involved in the offence, which is estimated at USD107.3 million (RM465.3 million),” the MACC statement had said.
In an immediate response, Thomas had replied that he was not responsible for Riza being granted the DNAA and issued the statement today to reiterate his stand on the matter.
Following his (Thomas’) initial response, MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki was reported to have said that the MACC stood by its statement regarding the matter (that Thomas had agreed to Riza being granted the DNAA).
On July 5, 2019, Riza, 43, who is the founder of film company Red Granite Pictures, had pleaded not guilty to five charges of money laundering. -Bernama