KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — The High Court here today sentenced former Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to 12 months in jail and RM2 million fine, in default six months’ jail, after finding him guilty on a graft charge with receiving RM2 million from a businessman in 2016.
However, Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan granted Tengku Adnan’s application for a stay of execution of the jail term and fine pending his appeal.
Earlier, in convicting Tengku Adnan, 70, on the charge, Justice Mohamed Zaini ruled that the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the Putrajaya MP had also failed to raise reasonable doubts in the prosecution’s case.
Tengku Adnan, or better known as Ku Nan, was charged in his capacity as a public servant, namely Minister of Federal Territories, with having received for himself a total of RM2 million from a businessman, Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong, who is Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd (AKSB) director, via a Hong Leong Islamic Bank cheque belonging to the company which was deposited into a CIMB account owned by Tadmansori Holdings Sdn Bhd (THSB), which Tengku Adnan has an interest in and is known to AKSB as being related to his official duties.
He was accused of committing the offence at CIMB Bank Berhad of Pusat Bandar Damansara branch here on June 14 2016 under Section 165 of the Penal Code which carries an imprisonment of up to two years or a fine or both, if convicted.
Today’s decision is the second high-profile case involving UMNO leaders found guilty of criminal charges that were filed during the Pakatan Harapan government, following the fall of the Barisan Nasional government in May 2018.
On July 28, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and RM210 million fine by High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali after finding him guilty on seven charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of position, involving RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
At the outset, lawyer Datuk Tan Hock Chuan, who led the defence team, during mitigation submitted that his client was a first-time offender and that it was not a heinous crime.
“My client was a significant contributor to the nation and he served in the cabinet and parliament for a period of 17 years. We asked for a non-custodial sentence and that a fine be given to my client. I pray for the court to impose a fine of less than RM2,000 to retain his qualification as an MP.
Tan said the court should consider the slim majority in Parliament where the current government would be affected if the accused were to be disqualified from his MP position.
This prompted Justice Mohamed Zaini to ask, “Should I be concerned with the political development of this country?”
Tan replied that for the purpose of the court’s finding on the crime, the court should not be concerned, but for the purpose of sentencing, the court’s decision would have an effect.
“The court can take judicial notice. We say that it is a factor that the court can consider. The effect is not in isolation but cumulative with others,” he said.
The lawyer further said that his client has many medical health condition, including hypertension, high cholesterol and lung problems.
Deputy public prosecutor Julia Ibrahim submitted that the application by the defence for a fine below RM2,000 so as not to disqualify him as a Member of Parliament is not an appropriate punishment to be given by the court.
“The amount in the charge is RM2 million and the accused has previously stated that the RM2 million is just ‘pocket money’ for him…every time there is an election, there will be changes. If the accused is not an MP, another person gets the opportunity to hold the post and serve the community,” she said.
Asked by Judge Mohamed Zaini the amount of fine the prosecution deemed appropriate, Julia said it should not be less than the amount in the charge.
Julia also submitted that the court should take into account public interest before deciding the sentence.
“The punishment should not only be a lesson to the accused, but also the society,” she said, and cited the case of former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo who was sentenced to one year in prison for a similar offence.
Tan then stood up and told the court that it was his client’s age and health that concern him the most.
“My main ground for asking the court not to impose a custodial sentence is not because of the disqualification (as MP). It is his age and health,” he added.
In his ruling Justice Mohamed Zaini said he was inclined to follow precedence in previous cases and cited the corruption case of Dr Mohamad Khir, who was jailed for a year.
“The accused is sentenced to 12 months and a fine of RM2 million, in default, he would serve six months’ jail. The sentence is to run from the date of the judgment,” the judge said.
He also said that Tengku Adnan was not the first high-ranking public servant and politician to be convicted of a crime.
“There have been others. Everyone is equal before the law. I do not doubt that he has served the country for many years but the sentence must reflect the crime and be a deterrent to others,” he said.
Tengku Adnan looked calm throughout the proceeding, which was also attended by his wife, Datin Seri Beatrice Ferlat Kusumo Anggraini @ Anggraini Sentiyaki, their two sons and other family members.
When the court adjourned before the parties submitted their mitigation, his wife was heard saying something, soon after the court convicted Tengku Adnan of the charge, but was calmed down by one of her sons.
Meanwhile, Tan when met by reporters, said the defence will file an appeal against today’s decision, either today or tomorrow.
Tengku Adnan, when approached by reporters, declined to give any comment and walked to his vehicle and left.