MACC should not claim ignorance on the acquittal of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng from graft charges as it is the commission's own prosecution officer who had informed the court that he was withdrawing the said charges, said Ramkarpal Singh.
In a statement today, Ramkarpal, who acted as Lim's counsel in the case, said he was in court this morning with lawyers for both Lim and businessperson Phang Li Koon, as well as MACC's legal and prosecution division director Mohd Masri Daud.
"There was not a hint of dissatisfaction from Masri or his team," said the Bukit Gelugor MP.
He was responding to a statement by the MACC, following Lim's acquittal this morning, that it was "very shocked" by the decision. The commission also stressed that the decision to free Lim and Phang were of the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC), and not its own.
Lim, who is also the former Penang chief minister, was freed of two graft charges over the alleged conversion of state land status and purchase of a bungalow at below market value, by the Penang High Court earlier today.
The court also acquitted Phang from the charge of abetting Lim in obtaining the bungalow at an undervalued cost.
This comes after the Attorney-General's Chambers accepted the representations from their lawyers.
'Right to acquit duo'
According to Ramkarpal, the judge was right to have acquitted both Lim and Phang, as it was consistent with recent trends.
"The learned judge exercised the powers vested in her by ordering an acquittal as opposed to a discharge not amounting to an acquittal,” he said, adding that there was no error on the judge’s part in doing so, particularly when the prosecution indicated that it did not wish to proceed.
Ramkarpal also cited the acquittal of National Feedlot Corporation executive chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail in 2015, of two criminal breach of trust charges, after the prosecution informed the court that it did not wish to pursue the matter.
"In this case, Lim and Phang had submitted extensive and detailed representations to the attorney-general as to why the charges ought to have been withdrawn, which were considered before today’s development," he said.
MACC's statement, according to Ramkarpal, indicates that Masri was not aware of the AGC's decision to withdraw the charges.
"There is nothing shocking about today’s acquittal as no man should be left with a possible prosecution in the future hanging over his head by the grant of an order of a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, especially when there is a clear indication that the prosecution wishes to withdraw that charge against him.
"This is elementary and the MACC’s failure to understand this is most unfortunate,” he said.
Ramkarpal then urged Masri to clear the air and confirm that he knew about the decision to withdraw the charges.