Muhyiddin enlists King’s Counsel in fight against corruption charges

KUALA LUMPUR (July 4): Former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has engaged a King’s Counsel in his fight against abuse of power and money-laundering charges.

Steven Perian, who returned to Malaysia earlier this year from the UK and joined Messrs Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership, will appear with Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and 13 other lawyers before a five-member Court of Appeal bench on July 9. Hisyam confirmed to The Edge the addition of Steven.

A King’s Counsel is a senior lawyer or barrister or solicitor advocate who has been recognised for excellence in advocacy in the UK. There are close to 2,000 King’s Counsels.

Steven holds a practice licence in both the UK and Malaysia, removing the need for him to obtain leave (permission) from the Malaysian court to appear before the judges.

He was confirmed as a Queen’s Counsel in 2016, is a distinguished criminal lawyer in the UK, and has acted for the crown in prosecuting various economic offences and financial crimes.

His resume of cases include conspiracy to defraud the UK’s financial institutions of US Treasury bonds worth US$2.3 trillion (RM10.84 trillion), computer-related crimes, and money laundering. He has also defended clients in diverse fraud matters in the UK, including public sector fraud, advance fee fraud, conspiracy to defraud, and money laundering.

The Legal 500 lauded Steven for his exceptional legal acumen, stating, “He has an analytical mind and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law”. The 2023 edition further praised him as “an industrious, approachable, and charming silk”.

Muhyiddin’s complex trial

Muhyiddin, 77, is facing charges on using his position as the then prime minister and Bersatu president to obtain bribes amounting to RM232.5 million from three companies, namely Bukhary Equity Sdn Bhd, Nepturis Sdn Bhd and Mamfor Sdn Bhd, and also from one Datuk Azman Yusoff, for the party.

He was charged with committing the offences at the Prime Minister’s Office, Bangunan Perdana Putra, Federal Government Administration Centre in Putrajaya between March 1, 2020 and Aug 20, 2021.

Muhyiddin was also charged with two counts of receiving proceeds from unlawful activities amounting to RM195 million from Bukhary Equity, which was deposited into Bersatu’s CIMB Bank account.

The offences were allegedly committed at CIMB Bank Menara KL Branch, Jalan Stesen Sentral here between Feb 25 and July 16, 2021, and between Feb 8 and July 8, 2022.

The Bersatu president was charged in the Sessions Court earlier this year, and had the abuse of power charges struck out by the High Court, resulting in him being acquitted of all charges due to the abuse of power being the predicate, or subject offence, being cancelled.

The Court of Appeal on Feb 28 reinstated those charges for the former prime minister to answer. Muhyiddin then sought a revision of the reinstatement, which he claimed is a nullity and illegality, as it was made without jurisdiction under Section 50 (1) of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

It is rare for the Court of Appeal to allow a revision of another bench’s earlier decision, and for this reason, leave had to be gained first to hear the merits of the revision.

The prosecution, to be led by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, who is the head of the Appellate and Trial Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers, is expected to object to the revision.

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