KUALA LUMPUR: Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court today to five charges of involvement in money-laundering activities to the tune of US$248 million (RM1.25 billion) allegedly misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The charges against Riza come in the wake of the charges brought against his mother, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and Najib over alleged misappropriation of 1MDB funds.
Riza, 42, better known as Riza Aziz, was allowed bail of RM1 million in two sureties of Malaysian citizens by Judge Rozina Ayob who ordered for the bail to be posted today and Riza, the owner of Red Granite Pictures, to hand over to the court all his passports pending settlement of the case.
The court set Aug 9 for mention for the submission of documents.
Earlier, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, the former Federal Court judge appointed as a senior DPP, proposed bail of RM1 million in two sureties of Malaysian citizens and suggested that Riza be ordered to hand over all his passports as a condition of guarantee. Sri Ram was assisted by DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib.
Riza’s counsel Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh did not object to the bail sum but another of his counsel, Datuk K. Kumaraendran, applied for the bail to be paid in instalments – RM500,000 today and the remainder next Monday or Tuesday.
He also told the court that his client’s passports are no longer valid because the Immigration Department has imposed a travel restriction on him.
“I have no valid passport,” Riza said when questioned by Judge Rozina who then said that Riza still had time to post the whole bail sum as the relevant counter will only close at 4.30 pm today.
After all the charges were read out by the court interpreter, Riza, who looked calm, said: “Understand the charges, plead not guilty and claim trial”.
On the first charge, the producer of the film The Wolf of Wall Street, is accused of having been involved in money laundering by accepting the proceeds from illegal activities totalling US$1,173,104 through a money transfer transaction from an account of Good Star Limited in RBS Coutts, Zurich, Switzerland, to an account of Red Granite Productions Inc. at City National Bank, Los Angeles, United States.
The money is alleged to have been misappropriated from 1MDB funds. Riza is accused of having committed the offence between April 12, 2011, and May 12, 2011, at the City National Bank in Los Angeles.
Riza, who is the son of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor from her previous marriage, was also charged with committing a similar offence involving US$9 million via a money transfer transaction from the same account between Sept 10, 2012, and Oct 10, 2012, at the same place.
On the third and fourth charges, he is accused of having committed similar offences involving US$133 million and US$60 million via a money transfer transaction from an account of Aabar Investment PJS Limited at BSI SA, Lugano, Switzerland, to an account of BSI Bank Limited Singapore belonging to Red Granite Capital Ltd.
He is alleged to have committed the offences at BSI Ltd, 7 Temasek Boulevard, #32-01 Suntec Tower One, Singapore on June 18, 2012, and Oct 23, 2012.
On the fifth charge, Riza is accused of having committed a similar offence involving US$45 million at the same place on Nov 14, 2012.
The charges, under Section 4(1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, provide for a fine of up to RM5 million or a jail term of up to five years, or both, upon conviction.
Besides Kumaraendran and Hariharan, the defence counsel also comprised Datuk Geethan Ram Vincent; Mohd Shukri Ahmad Mansor; Azrul Zulkifli Stork; Syazwani Zawawi and Mardhiyah Siraj while counsel Muhammad Farhan Shafee held a watching brief for Najib.
The court proceedings were also attended by Riza’s step-siblings Mohd Norashman and Nooryana Najwa. – Bernama