Property/Asset frozen by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (AMLA)?

Whenever you are suspected involving, with money laundering under Section 4 Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, under Section 44 Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, the enforcement agency, having the power to authorise any of its officers to take custody and control  of the property, or such part of the property as is specified in the order if the enforcement agency is satisfied that the circumstances so require.

In short, you get suspected involving with money laundering, the relevant authorities has frozen your asset especially your bank account whereby you no longer can use the money in your bank account, your vehicle and your other valuable asset.

A freezing order is an order issued by an enforcement agency under Section 44 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activity Act 2001 (AMLA). It is  issued on the property of the person who is under investigation with regards to an unlawful activity and where the enforcement agency has grounds to suspect either he/she is about to commit an offence of money laundering or terrorism financing or that the property is proceeds of an unlawful activity.

Depending on the terms of a freezing order, in general, upon the issuance of a freezing order, the owner of the property is prohibited from dealing with the property, such as selling, disposing of, charging, pledging, transferring or removing the property out of Malaysia. A freezing order may even require the owner of the frozen property to surrender his passport to the Director-General of Immigration to prevent him from leaving the country.

The enforcement agency should send a copy of the freezing order together with a list of the frozen property to the Public Prosecutor. Where a freezing order is made on monies deposited in a bank, the enforcement agency should also send a copy of the order together with a list of the frozen property to the Bank Negara Malaysia accordingly.

A freezing order is valid for 90 days from the date of the order if the person named in the freezing order has not been charged for an offence under the AMLA. Where there is no charge brought within the 90 days period, the freezing order shall no longer have effect.

If there is no prosecution and yet the Public Prosecutor intends to forfeit the property on satisfaction that the property is the subject matter of an offence under AMLA or being proceeds of unlawful activity, the Public Prosecutor may apply for a Court order of forfeiture of the property. The application must be made within 12 months from the date of a seizure order or where there is a prior freezing order, within 12 months from the date of the freezing order.

A freezing order is not to be confused with a seizure order. While a freezing order is usually issued to maintain the status quo of the property of the person who is under investigation for offence of money laundering or terrorism financing, a seizure order, on the other hand, is an order issued by the Public Prosecutor upon satisfaction from the investigation that the movable property is the subject matter of an offence of money laundering or terrorism financing or is the proceeds of an unlawful activity.

What you can do?

Assuming that if there is no charges put by the deputy public prosecutor against you, then you can engage lawyer to apply to court to have your frozen property to be released back to you.

Written by Lawyer Khoo,
Managing Partner
Messrs. Ng Kee Way & Co.

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