Three named in 1MDB-linked forfeiture suit have 'run away', court told

Hidir Reduan

Modified 30 May 2019, 1:56 pm

Editor's note: The previous version of this report erroneously identified two persons as those who had gone missing. The report has since been updated with the correct persons (Kee Kok Thiam and Tan Vern Tact). 

Three of the 18 individuals named in Putrajaya's forfeiture suit over property and valuables linked to 1MDB could not be served papers because they have "run away," the Kuala Lumpur High Court was told today.

Deputy public prosecutor Fatnin Yusof informed judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that the prosecution will apply for the hearing to proceed without Kee Kok Thiam, Tan Vern Tact, and Geh Choh Hun.

All three individuals have alleged links to fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low. 

According to The Edge, Kee, 47, had been assigned by SRC International's CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil to place cash deposits into former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s AmBank accounts.

SRC International is a former 1MDB subsidiary.

Kee had reportedly also been contacted by Low to help arrange VIP treatment for Nawaf Obaid, the brother of Tarek Obaid. Tarek was an executive from 1MDB's joint venture partner PetroSaudi International.

RM1.52 million was seized from Kee's accounts on May 11 this year.

Tan, 43, was an executive director at Utama Banking Group Bhd (UBG) and non-executive director at Loh & Loh and Putrajaya Perdana. The companies are linked to Low. 

RM6.44 million was seized from Tan's accounts on May 11 this year.

Geh, 40, was a close confidant of Low. He chaired the 1Malaysia Welfare Club of Penang, which was active in organising dinners and distributing cash donations to several organisations, including NGOs and three local Chinese media groups, during the 2013 general election.

RM133,388 were seized from his accounts on March 11 this year.

Read more: Who's who in the civil forfeiture notice against Najib and associates

The forfeiture suit before Zaini involves a total of 18 respondents, with former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, 66, being the first listed respondent, his wife Rosmah Mansor, 68, being the second respondent, and their son Nor Ashman Razak Mohd Najib, 29, and daughter Nooryana Najwa Mohd Najib, 31, being the fourth and fifth respondents, respectively.

"All court papers had been served on respondents per the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFA) 2001," Fatnin told the court during case management.

“However, respondents 16, 17 and 18 (Kee, Tan and Geh) have run away.

“(Attempted) service (of court papers) on those who have absconded have been done per Section 66 of the act. (According to the section), proceedings can go on until its completion."

Fatnin also made an application under Section 61(2) of the act to publish a notice to call for any third parties with an interest in the seized property and valuables to attend court proceedings and show cause on why said items should not be forfeited.

"Respondents who are present today have no objection to this. We need time (to prepare the notice),” she said. 

Among the lawyers present in court were M Puravalen, who acted for the 13th listed respondent Goh Gaik Ewe, the 67-year-old mother of Jho Low.

The lawyers did not object to the application.

'Include photos too'

During the same proceedings, Najib’s counsel Muhammad Farhan Shafee (photo) suggested that particulars of the seized items should also come accompanied by photographs.

Farhan said this would ease the process of preparing affidavits, as it would allay confusion in the listing of the items.

Zaini said that he had no power to compel the prosecution to take on the suggestion, but noted that it was a reasonable request.

The judge set Aug 30 for case management, to allow the prosecution sufficient time to publish the aforementioned notice for third parties in the Gazette.

"This is will be a long journey, but by August, various parties will be able to get (court) direction on submitting affidavits," he said. "They can work on the drafts as there is a lot of time."

On May 17, it was reported that a notice could not be served on Low's mother, Goh Gaik Ewe, as she was overseas.

Her lawyer Puravalen had informed Zaini on the day that court papers could still be served at a later date.

Low's family bungalow in Penang was among the properties listed in the forfeiture notice, along with 27 vehicles, handbags, watches and cash in various foreign currencies, among others.

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