RIZA Shahriz Abdul Aziz’s discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) in money laundering is “unique”, said former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a jibe at his former protege and successor Najib Razak who defended the court’s decision by claiming that the settlement was proper.
Riza, who is Najib’s stepson, was granted a DNAA on May 14 for five counts of money laundering amounting to US$248 mil (RM1.25 bil), allegedly misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds.
“If it is not a crime then what is his discharge not amounting to an acquittal about – acquittal for what if money laundering is not a crime? Incidentally, the same law includes Anti-terrorism Financing Act – which of course is not a crime.
“Call it by any name but the settlement is unique. A thief steals money and when arrested is charged with stealing or abusing power or retaining illegally acquired money and asked to give back some of the money. He then will be discharged though not acquitted,” Mahathir wrote in his blog today.
Not being acquitted means Riza was still guilty as charged, Mahathir said. “That’s okay. All he has to do is to give back less than half of the money he has stolen. This means he will enjoy more than half of the money he had stolen and be a free man.”
Mahathir also took inspiration from former political rival Anwar Ibrahim. “What do you call this generosity if it is not a plea bargain? As Datuk Seri Anwar said, in Malaysia you can steal 10 chickens but if you give back one chicken then you are free to enjoy the nine others,” he said.
He then sarcastically remarked that such a situation made it “great” for thieves. “Maybe it is also great for certain lawyers. But we have to keep a close watch of our pockets and safes. And foreign tourists too should be careful. This is the new normal in Malaysia,” he said. - June 22, 2020