KOTA KINABALU: The Sessions Court here yesterday sentenced a man to a total of 18 months’ jail and RM55,000 fine for two counts of illegally buying foreign currency from a person outside Malaysia seven years ago.
In his reserved judgement, judge Ismail Brahim held that Adrian Lee Kah Cheah, 32, who was defended by counsel Ram Singh, failed to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case.
Ismail found the accused, who was accompanied by his father yesterday, guilty on both charges.
On the first count, Lee who was without the permission of the Controller and not an authorised dealer in Malaysia had carried out preparatory to buy foreign currency from Goldex Equities Limited with registered address at Level 2, Windsor Court, 128-136, Parnell Road, Auckland in New Zealand.
He was jailed for six months and fined RM5,000 fine, in default, six months’ imprisonment for committing the offence at Suite 6-08B, sixth floor of the MAA tower at Lorong Api-Api here between June 2006 and Dec 31, 2006.
He was convicted under Section 4(2) of the Exchange Control Act 1953 (Act 17) punishable under Fifth Schedule, Part II, paragraph 7(2) of the same Act, which carries a maximum fine of RM10,000 or a jail term of up to three years or both, upon conviction.
On the second charge, he was handed down another one year’s jail plus RM50,000 fine, in default, six months’ jail for committing a similar offence at the same place between Jan 1 – Feb 28, 2007. The offence was framed under Section 4(2) of the Exchange Control Act 1953 (Act 17) punishable under Fifth Schedule, Part II, paragraph 7(2A) of the same Act, which provides for a fine of not exceeding RM1 million or a maximum jail of five years or both, upon conviction.
However, Ismail, who ordered both the jail sentences to run consecutively, also allowed a stay of Lee’s execution pending an appeal at the High Court.
The court maintained his existing bail of RM50,000 bail with RM5,000 deposited with one local surety for both the charges, pending disposal of the case.
In pleading for a light sentence, the counsel urged the court not to impose a heavier sentence on Lee as the accused was only a victim of circumstances.
Ram said that Lee’s father, who is coming to 69 years old next month, suggested to the court not to impose a deterrent sentence on his son and also suggested a low amount of fine to be imposed on Lee.
Ram submitted that Lee did not earn from a Forex Trading except his salary for working less than nine months in the employ of a company.
In reply, the prosecution applied for a deterrent sentence to be handed down on the accused to deter others from repeating a similar offence and to send a message to the public that this offence was a serious one.
The trial commenced on July 12, 2010 and the prosecution had closed its case on June 14 this year after calling 25 witnesses to testify against Lee.
On Sept 22, 2011, the court ruled that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the accused and he was called to enter his defence.
The accused was the sole defence witness who made his defence under oath.
Bank Negara prosecuting officers Anthony Kularaj Kulasingam and Yip Kah Kit prosecuted.