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Thursday, June 22, 2017

No RCI without Cabinet sanction, says retired judge

But there is a legal avenue to compel the Cabinet to set up an RCI on 1MDB, says Gopal Sri Ram.
Gopal-Sri-Ram-cabinetPETALING JAYA: No Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on public interest issues can be held without the approval of the Cabinet, a retired judge said today.
Gopal Sri Ram said under the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who is head of state, can only act in accordance with the advice of the executive.
“Article 40 states the king is to act on the advice of the Cabinet or a minister,” he said.
Sri Ram, a retired Federal Court judge, said this in response to a call by opposition leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to the government to set up an RCI into the 1MDB issue.
Wan Azizah said she welcomed the Cabinet’s move to establish an RCI to investigate the losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) due to foreign exchange (forex) trading between 1991 and 1993.
The RCI was established after a task force had made a preliminary finding on allegations that the central bank had incurred forex losses of at least US$10 billion (about RM44 billion).
“The same principle should be adopted to set up an RCI following the recent revelation by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ),” she said.
Sri Ram, however, said those with legal standing could resort to legal address to compel the Cabinet to set up the RCI on 1MDB.
“They may get an order of mandamus from the court to direct the Cabinet to set up an RCI,” he said, adding that this action had been suggested by the Privy Council in the 1979 case of Teh Cheng Poh v Public Prosecutor.
Sri Ram said the litigant, however, should have good grounds to support the mandamus application.
“This includes the DoJ’s findings in seeking forfeiture of property and valuables in the US,” he said.
The DoJ has filed three civil forfeiture suits to recover assets worth US$1.8 billion (RM7.7 billion) that it claims were bought with funds embezzled from 1MDB, making it the largest action brought by the DoJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. -FMT

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