Australia freezes $328k in senior KL cop's account

Funds suspected to be laundered money or crime proceeds; he denies any wrongdoing

A senior Malaysian police officer has had A$320,000 (S$328,000) in his bank account frozen by the Australian authorities on suspicion of money laundering.

Police applied for an order last year over sums in Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd's account at a Sydney branch of the Commonwealth Bank, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported yesterday.

Datuk Seri Najmuddin, 59, director of the criminal investigation department of the Royal Malaysia Police, has denied any wrongdoing but said he will not attempt to claim the money as court action was too expensive. He said the money was meant for his son's aviation studies and his daughter's master's degree.

Australian Federal Police reportedly suspected that the account held laundered money or crime proceeds after almost A$290,000 was banked from five different states within the space of a month.

The funds poured in days after Mr Najmuddin's last visit to Australia in September 2016, mostly as structured deposits of below A$10,000 each, the threshold above which Australian law enforcement agencies receive notifications.

The SMH said the police move to freeze the account was based solely on the deposits and did not explore whether the officer was involved in indictable offences.

"I've given my explanation," said Mr Najmuddin, as quoted by Fairfax Media.

Malaysia's police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun called the allegations unfounded in a statement yesterday: "It is baseless to assume that... Mr Najmuddin was involved in any form of indictable offences.

"Investigations revealed the account was opened in 2011 to... finance the son's education. It was reactivated in 2016 to plan for his daughter's master's degree."

He added that Mr Najmuddin was able to provide documents to prove the funds originated from the sale of his house, valued at RM700,000 (S$236,000) at the time.

The SMH report also quoted Allaudeen Abdul Majid from the Malaysian Police's Integrity Department saying that police found that the funds were lawfully obtained from the sale of a house.

Mr Najmuddin had previously declared A$112,000 to the Australian Customs on trips in 2011 and 2012.

Malaysian police faced calls from anti-corruption activists to reopen probes into the incident, reported The Malaysian Insight. "He should explain the... transactions and show proof where the amounts were sourced," said Ms Cynthia Gabriel, executive director for the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline 'Australia freezes $328k in senior KL cop's account'. Print Edition | Subscribe