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New judge presides over Rosmah's money laundering, tax evasion trial

Publish date: Thu, 23 Mar 2023, 11:59 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (March 23): Judge K Muniandy will now preside over Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's RM7 million money laundering and tax evasion trial.

The High Court judge, who presided over a brief case management on Thursday (March 23), is replacing judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal (COA) in January.  

During proceedings on Thursday, Datuk Geethan Ram Vincent, who is one of Rosmah's counsels, informed the court that they were withdrawing the defence's application to disqualify senior deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, given the circumstances.

Sri Ram passed away in late January due to a lung infection.

In this criminal trial, Rosmah had filed the application to disqualify the former apex court judge from being the lead prosecutor in January last year.

Following this, Muniandy made an order for the application to be struck out.

Besides Geethan, Rosmah is also represented by Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin and Mohd Reza Rahim in this case.

DPPs Poh Yih Tinn and Deepa Nair Thevaharan appeared for the prosecution.

Poh also informed the court of the 15 trial dates from May to September 2023, which were set late last year, and the prosecution's intention to call 15 witnesses.

During the proceedings on Thursday, the July 27 trial date was vacated, as Geethan will be occupied with a COA matter that day.

This is Rosmah's second criminal trial. Rosmah is the wife of jailed former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In September last year, Zaini found her guilty of all three counts of graft relating to a solar hybrid graft project for 369 schools in rural Sarawak. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined RM970 million.

Rosmah is also liable to a total of 30 years in jail should she fail to pay the fine. A stay was granted, pending the disposal of her appeal, which is slated to be heard in July this year. 

As for the tax evasion and money laundering case, Rosmah faces 17 charges involving RM7.1 million that was transferred into her personal bank account between 2013 and 2017. 

The charges were framed under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

On the first eight counts, she is charged with money laundering by directly engaging in a transaction involving proceeds of unlawful activities amounting to RM1.1 million that were deposited into her account.

On the ninth to 12th counts, she is charged with directly engaging in 227 transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activities totalling RM6 million, which were also deposited into her account.

On the 13th to 17th counts, she is charged with engaging in money laundering by failing to file a return on the sum that was deposited into her account as required under the Income Tax Act 1967.

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