Asia

Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan cleared of money laundering charge

KUALA LUMPUR –  Umno secretary-general and Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan, who is in the running for the Deputy Speaker post in Parliament, has been cleared of money laundering by Malaysia’s High Court.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan was acquitted of  money laundering and providing a false statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over RM2 million he received from former premier Najib Razak in 2013, after he paid a RM1.1 million (S$356,210) compound, national news agency Bernama reported on Wednesday (Sept 29).

“This settlement process took almost a year before it was accepted and recorded in court today. This settlement is not Ahmad’s guilty plea to all charges against him,” said law firm Messrs Shahrul Hamidi & Haziq, which is representing Mr Ahmad.

“It was done in accordance with the law and has gone through a transparent and orderly process. This (settlement) is solely for the purpose of this case and has nothing to do with any political factors,” it added in a statement.

Mr Ahmad, 53, had previously claimed trial to charges of failing to declare the sum he received from Najib to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN), allegedly violating Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967 by not stating his real income in the income tax return form for 2013.

The money was said to be proceeds of illegal activities and was given through a cheque from AmIslamic Bank Bhd dated Nov 27, 2013, which he personally cashed on the same day.

The Pontian MP was also accused of giving false statements when questioned by investigating officer Mohd Zairi Zainal on July 4, 2019.

Mr Ahmad has been referred to as part of the “court cluster” – a group of Umno lawmakers who were charged with graft during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, which came into power after defeating the Umno-led Barisan Nasional alliance at the May 2018 election.

These MPs include Najib, who is appealing against a 12-year prison sentence for graft related to a former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary, and Umno chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who faces dozens of corruption charges.

Mr Ahmad is currently in the running for the post of Deputy Speaker in Parliament.

The position was left vacant after another Umno lawmaker, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, resigned from the post in August.

Mr Ahmad’s nomination has drawn flak from opposition lawmakers, with Batu Gajah MP V. Sivakumar demanding that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob explain his government’s choice for the post.

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