Riza Aziz seeks to transfer RM1.18b 1MDB money-laundering case to High Court

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 27): Datuk Seri Najib Razak's stepson, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, has applied to transfer his trial entailing five charges of money laundering involving US$248.17 million (RM1.18 billion) from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to the High Court, from the Sessions Court.

Riza's lawyer Syazwani Mohd Zawawi said the application to transfer the case was filed at the High Court last Aug 16 on the grounds that the trial would affect his constitutional right, the case involves complex issues and that it would take a long time if the case goes on trial at the Sessions Court where Riza is charged.

"This is because the charges faced by Riza are said to [take place] overseas; however, he is being charged here," she said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said they filed an objection to the transfer application on the grounds that it does not involve a constitutional issue, the case is not that complex and the trial would not take a long time at the Sessions Court.

The case came up for case management before High Court deputy registrar Mahyuddin Md Som today.

He fixed the hearing of the application before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on Sept 23.

It was previously reported that Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob had already fixed trial dates for the case — from Jan 6 to 9 and Jan 13 to 16 next year.

Riza is accused of receiving the 1MDB-linked funds through the bank accounts of Hollywood production house Red Granite Productions Inc, which he co-founded, and was itself charged in the US for misappropriating monies from the investment fund between April 12, 2011 and Nov 14, 2012.

The funds were transferred from the Swiss accounts of Good Star Ltd — linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, otherwise known as Jho Low — and Aabar Investment PJS Ltd to the accounts of Red Granite in the US and Singapore.

Each charge, filed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money-Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, carries a punishment of maximum five years' jail and/or maximum RM5 million fine.

Besides Riza, Najib is also facing charges in relation to 1MDB with his trial expected to start tomorrow, while his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor had also been charged with receiving kickbacks for a solar hybrid project involving rural schools in Sarawak.

See also: Riza Aziz RM1.18b money laundering trial tentatively set for January 2020