Gopal Sri Ram must speak up on Riza Aziz case

Much has been said and written about Riza Aziz’s controversial settlement.

And one man who will be able to shed plenty of light onto the matter is Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram – the retired Federal Court judge turned private practitioner who was appointed by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas to lead the prosecution.

Why Sri Ram?

According to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s statement on May 14, the last paragraph reads: “The agreement between the prosecution and the accused through representation in court was a decision considered and agreed by the former Attorney-General, Tan Sri Tommy Thomas.”

MACC’s full statement is available on its website.

Tommy, however, was unimpressed with his name being dragged into the controversial settlement. He had in a statement yesterday said: “On Feb 28, 2020, I resigned as Attorney General. Until my resignation, I had not received any advice from (Gopal) Sri Ram. Thus, I did not decide on the representations of Riza prior to my resignation.”

He also said: “At a case management on 14th May 2020, the Sessions Court Judge granted Riza a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) in relation to his criminal charges, on the application made by ad hoc prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.”

His statement was reproduced by The Edge.

Many individuals – from former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, de facto law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan to those in the legal fraternity – have their interpretations of the deal involving the Hollywood producer – and have made their feelings public.

In fact, Focus Malaysia editor P. Gunasegaran had in his May 15 article asked three questions following the settlement of the case: “Is this the tone that will be taken for ongoing and future prosecutions involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) post the change of government in Malaysia? Isn’t this a dangerous precedent in the prosecution of serious crimes involving billions of ringgit, especially those involving 1MDB? What is the basis for making such decisions?”

The MACC is sticking to its May 14 statement, leaving Tommy “absolutely shocked”.

Thus, it is only right for the person who worked with Tommy and continued to work on the case after Tommy left to set the record straight. And that person who will be able to tell if the MACC or Tommy is right is Sri Ram.

The ball is in your court, sir.

UPDATE 12.05pm: Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun had in a statement revealed:

“I have been advised that my predecessor Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, after perusing the said letter of representation, via a minute dated Nov 19, 2019 to Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, sought the views of the latter, and further stated that in light of the proposals outlined above, he is prepared to consider the representation.

“I have been further advised that Sri Ram, in consultation with the then Chief Commissioner of MACC, Latheefa Koya, suggested that the proposals laid down in the letter of representation be accepted by MACC. I have also been advised that Thomas had agreed to the suggestion in principle. This paved the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted, to take place.”

The full statement is available on the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia website.

UPDATE 12.15pm: Sri Ram, had in a text message to The Star, said: “Once (the) AG has made a statement, that is the end of the matter.”