Rosmah verdict: Corruption must be curtailed before it becomes pandemic, says trial judge

KUALA LUMPUR: High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, who convicted Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in her solar hybrid project graft case, said corruption has reached almost every level of society, hence it must be curtailed before it becomes pandemic.

In his 116-page judgment, the judge said if corruption was left unbridled, society would come to accept it as a way of life or business.

ALSO READ: Rosmah verdict: RM970mil fine sets record as highest imposed so far under MACC Act

Earlier, he handed down the sentence on Rosmah after finding her guilty on all three corruption charges involving a RM1.25bil hybrid solar project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

“I have taken into consideration the mitigating factors submitted by the learned counsel for the accused and also the prosecution’s response. The foremost consideration in deciding the appropriate sentence is public interest.

“The sentence must reflect society’s disapproval or revulsion of the crime. The sentence must also reflect the gravity of the offence committed. It should also serve as a deterrent to the accused and others from committing a crime of this nature,” said the judge.

ALSO READ: Rosmah verdict: Ex-PM’s wife sentenced to 10 years’ jail, fined RM970mil

He explained that the punishment prescribed for an offence under Section 26(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009 was provided for under Section 24(1) of the same act, which states that any person who commits an offence under Sections 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 23 shall upon conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the gratification which is the subject matter of the offence, where such gratification is capable of being valued or is of a pecuniary nature, or RM10,000, whichever is the higher.

The judge said the punishment provided for under the section was undoubtedly heavy, which signified the seriousness of the offence of corruption.

ALSO READ: Rosmah verdict: Ex-PM’s wife breaks down in court after being found guilty

Rosmah was charged under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, which is punishable under Section 24(1).

“Therefore, the accused is sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment for each charge with the sentences to run concurrently. The sentences are to run from the date of judgment.

“The sentences are to run concurrently as the offences committed are intimately connected with each other.

“The accused is also fined a total of RM970mil for all three charges and if in default, shall be imprisoned for 10 years,” he said.

ALSO READ: Rosmah verdict: RM970mil fine is ‘too high’, we will appeal, says defence

Judge Mohamed Zaini also mentioned that Rosmah’s counsel stated that they would be filing an appeal to the Court of Appeal and requested the prison sentence and fine be suspended pending appeal, to which the prosecution did not object.

“I am therefore minded to suspend the prison sentence, the payment of the fine and the execution of payment of the fine until the disposal of the accused’s appeal to the Court of Appeal.

“The bail of RM2mil posted previously is to be extended on the same terms until the disposal of the appeal,” he said.

ALSO READ: Rosmah verdict: Ex-PM’s wife guilty on all three charges, High Court rules

When approached by reporters, Rosmah’s lawyer Datuk Jagjit Singh said the fine imposed was “unprecedented” and the largest in Malaysian legal history.

“Who can afford the fine of almost RM1 billion? The fine comes up to RM970 million. You tell me, who can afford that money?

“My client doesn’t have any source of income. Is this what we call justice?” he said, adding that he would be filing the appeal on Friday (Sept 1). – Bernama