Malaysian High Court convicts Umno treasurer Tengku Adnan of graft

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor is the second high-profile Umno leader to be convicted of corruption in recent months. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - The treasurer-general of Umno, the biggest party in Malaysia's ruling Perikatan Nasional alliance, was sentenced to a year in jail after he was convicted of corruption by the Malaysian High Court on Monday (Dec 21).

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, 70, was found guilty under Section 165 of the Penal Code - which criminalises using public office to receive gratification - for accepting RM2 million (around S$660,000 in today's rates) from a local businessman in 2016, when the former was the federal territories minister.

He was also fined RM2 million for the offence. However, both the imprisonment and fine was stayed pending an appeal by Tengku Adnan with higher courts.

The conviction, if upheld by higher courts, would strip Tengku Adnan of his federal Putrajaya seat. A Member of Parliament is disqualified from holding public office if he or she is jailed for not less than a year, or fined RM2,000 and above.

As long as the conviction is not overturned, Tengku Adnan will not be eligible to contest in the next national elections. He has been the MP of Putrajaya since the constituency was first formed 16 years ago.

High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said on Monday that the prosecution has proved its case "beyond reasonable doubt", while also dismissing Tengku Adnan's claims of political persecution in the case.

The decision comes just a fortnight after Tengku Adnan, who is MP for Putrajaya, was discharged from another corruption trial by the High Court over a separate charge involving the receipt of RM1 million from another businessman.

The former Cabinet minister is the second high-profile Umno leader to be convicted of corruption in recent months, following the conviction of former prime minister Najib Razak over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal in July.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail and a RM210 million fine, and is now out on bail pending an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Tengku Adnan's conviction came one day after he organised a grand drive-in wedding reception for his son right in front of the Federal Court building in administrative capital Putrajaya. The wedding reception coincided with Tengku Adnan's 70th birthday.

The veteran politician will now need to bring his appeal to the higher courts in Putrajaya to overturn the conviction.

Tengku Adnan's defence had claimed that the RM2 million was a political donation given to him as Umno treasurer, to be used for the party's by-election campaigns in Selangor and Perak in 2016.

However, Justice Mohamed Zaini said that he was unable to accept the argument, especially after a receipt produced by the defence for the donation was written in 2018, even though the offence took place in 2016.

In his witness statement, the former minister also described the sum, RM2 million, as "pocket money" to him. In the course of the trial, it was also revealed that Tengku Adnan's assets stood at RM782.75 million as at 2016.

Najib previously said that Tengku Adnan, who served in his cabinet for five years and was also secretary-general of the previous ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, acquired his wealth through his shareholdings in various companies in the 1990s.

Tengku Adnan himself said that he had been fronting money for Umno for three decades with his own funds, and that the party still owed him to the tune of millions.

Tengku Adnan was granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal in his other RM1 million graft case earlier this month after the prosecution said new developments had emerged, prompting criticism from the opposition.

He was discharged even though the businessman in that case, Tan Eng Boon, entered into a guilty plea for bribing the minister, and received a RM1.5 million fine.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.