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Saturday, December 30, 2023

MACC can seize Ilham Tower for 18 months pending investigations


Daim Zainuddin’s Ilham Tower was seized by the MACC via a notice dated Dec 18. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is empowered by law to seize Ilham Tower, a 274m-tall skyscraper that belongs to Daim Zainuddin and his family, for up to 18 months pending investigations, a lawyer said.

Fahmi Abdul Moin said even if no one is charged under any penal law, the prosecution could apply to a sessions court judge under Section 41 of the MACC Act for the property to be forfeited.

“The judge will then issue a gazette calling for any third party who has an interest in the property to attend court to show why the property should not be forfeited,” said the former deputy public prosecutor with Bank Negara Malaysia.

Fahmi was asked how long the investigating agency could freeze movable and immovable assets pending a probe under the Act.

He said the MACC Act is more draconian than the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amla)  when it comes to seizure of property without prosecution.

Amla allows seizure for up to 12 months.

Fahmi said the MACC Act allows for the property to be forfeited if Daim or anyone linked to the property is successfully prosecuted.

“If there is a predicate offence to be preferred, and if the prosecution secures a conviction, then the property can be forfeited,” he told FMT.

Last week it was reported that the property had been seized under Section 38(1) of the MACC Act pending investigations.

According to MACC’s deputy public prosecutor, Ahmad Akram Gharib, the director-general of the lands and mines department in Kuala Lumpur was instructed to seize the property in a notice dated Dec 18.

Any individual who defies the notice can be convicted and subjected to a fine not exceeding twice the value of the property, or RM50,000, whichever is higher, and sentenced to jail for a term not exceeding two years.

MACC chief Azam Baki has revealed that the agency is probing Daim, a former finance minister, for alleged corruption and money laundering, following the seizure of the 60-storey skyscraper.

Azam said several other assets belonging to Daim and his family may also be seized, following an alleged failure to explain the source of funds used for their purchase.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has denied any ulterior motive behind the seizure of the building, saying it was proof that the anti-graft agency would investigate anyone regardless of their background and position.

On Thursday, Daim hit out at Anwar and the MACC amid the anti-graft agency’s “purported” investigation against him and his family, which he described as a “witch-hunt”.

In a statement on AstroAwani, Daim claimed that he had not been informed of the alleged offence he was accused of. He also said there has been an “organised effort” to discredit him by releasing misinformation and “baseless insinuations”. - FMT

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