8th June – The introduction of the Anti-Money Laundering Act(AMLA) in 2001, which is now known as the the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUAA) serves to impose criminal sanctions upon any person involved in proceeds derived through illegal or illicit means.
AMLATFPUAA seeks to provide law enforcement and regulatory agencies with a most effective tool to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing. It also provides wide-ranging investigation powers including powers for law enforcement agencies and the Public Prosecutor to freeze, seize and confiscate or forfeit the proceeds or properties that are involved or suspected to be involved in money laundering or terrorism financing , and gives power to the court to forfeit properties derived from the proceeds of serious crimes.
Dirty money is cleverly cleaned using various methods in order to conceal its criminal origins and make it appear “clean” instead of being derived from illegal activities such as corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism, robbery, prostitution, illegal gaming, arms trafficking, bribery, corruption and cigarette smuggling.
The AMLATFPUAA law is very powerful in that it places the burden on the suspect to explain in the court of law the source of the money in his control or possession. He has the duty to to prove or provide the paper trail or documented evidence to show that the money and assets were acquired from legal sources such as business, borrowed money, dealings, inheritance or even lottery.
In early 2018, it was reported that the Saudi Arabian government had seized more than US$124 billion in a corruption purge. Crown Prince Mohammed appeared to have won widespread approval amongst ordinary Saudis for this purge, partly because the Government had promised it would use some of the money it seizes to provide social benefits. This was a good move and the Malaysian Government may consider adopting this approach as well.
In fact, It is believed that 2016 and 2017 MACC had frozen and seized approximately RM670 million which included cash, gold bars, luxury cars, branded handbags and jewelleries. Some of the seized assets and fines from cases of corruption may be liquidated and channelled towards Tabung Harapan to help the government reduce the national debt.
This excluded other local enforcement agencies and the government to recover some of the estimated US$4.5 billion worth of assets that disappeared from the books of the state investment fund with bank accounts in countries around the world, including United States, Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg.
The government should seriously enforce AMLATPUA 2001 as it will serve a warning to the criminals that crime does not pay where apart charged for a serious offence as stipulated in the second schedule of the act it also clearly does not allow any individuals to benefit or enjoy the illegal proceeds obtained from unlawful activities.
Datuk Akhbar Satar
President, Transparency International Malaysia
8 June 2018
About Transparency International Malaysia
Transparency International-Malaysia is an independent, non-governmental and non-partisan organisation committed to the fight against corruption.