Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — The country’s anti-graft body on Friday (30 July) cleared former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ex-public relations adviser and an Umno lawyer respectively of money laundering charges made against them in connection to controversial state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in a statement today said that Paul Geoffrey Stadlen, a United Kingdom national, has agreed to return a sum of RM7,192,873.84 after reaching a settlement.

MACC said that the funds will be transferred to 1MDB’s trust account.

Consequently, the commission said that it will drop its case against the former head of Apco.

The firm was reportedly paid large sums to promote pro-government campaigns during Najib’s tenure.

Stadlen was previously charged with two counts of money laundering amounting to RM15 million.

The first entailed ordering payments of RM8,111,322.43 from illegal activities to be paid via 27 transactions from Umno legal adviser Hafarizam Harun’s law firm’s client account to individuals and companies from June to December 2014.

The second involves the alleged ordering of payments of RM6,139,078.34 in proceeds from illegal activities via 16 transactions from the same client account to individuals and companies between January and August 2015.

His charge was made in the Sessions Court here on 20 February 2019 in absentia.

Stadlen reportedly left the country after the general election in 2018. An arrest warrant was issued for him in February the following year.

In a similar agreement with the MACC and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), charges against Hafarizam were dropped after the lawyer paid a compound of RM590,587.26, said MACC.

This followed an agreement an offer the lawyer had received on Wednesday to pay the compound. Hafarizam paid the amount yesterday, The Edge Markets reported.

He was accused of being directly involved in depositing RM11.5 million in illegal funds through two AmIslamic Bank Berhad cheques from Najib into his law firm’s client account.

The Sessions Court acquitted and discharged the lawyer from three charges made against him in relation to the payments.

Speaking at a press conference after the case was concluded, Hafarizam said that he had decided to pay the compound after being advised to do so by his lawyers.

Branding the charges against him as a form of “selective prosecution” by previous Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, the lawyer said that the money deposited into his law firm’s client account “was not for my benefit nor for the law firm”.

“Every sen that I received from my client is placed in the client account and would be withdrawn to third parties on the instruction of my client in the capacity as a stakeholder.

“These transactions are normal transactions for any law firm and are valid transactions and not illegal under the law,” he added.

Hafarizam also claimed that three lawyers who took the stand for the prosecution in the SRC International trial had admitted to receiving money into their client accounts based on their clients’ instructions, yet were not charged.

“The charges against me gave the [wrong] impression and affected other lawyers and those in the Malaysian Bar,” he said.

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