i-Serve gets leave for second judicial review against BNM, AGC and NFCC over seizure orders


11 August2022


In court papers sighted by The Edge, i-Serve and its principals are claiming that the seizure orders were defective, and issued in bad faith flowing from the earlier freezing orders. i-Serve also claims that the freezing and seizure orders may destroy its business.

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 11): E-Commerce firm i-Serve Online Mall Sdn Bhd and 11 others obtained leave from the High Court here against Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), five of its officers, the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC), and the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre (NFCC) to challenge seizure orders issued by BNM.


The decision was made by Justice Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh on Thursday (Aug 11), after AGC representative M Kogilambigai did not object to the ex-parte leave (permission) application to challenge the seizure orders issued.


In judicial review cases to challenge the decisions by the authorities, leave (permission) has to be gained first before the full merits of a case is heard. This follows that the court has to make sure that the application is not frivolous, vexatious, and an abuse of the court process.


Besides i-Serve, the other 11 applicants include two individuals who are shareholders Datuk Goh Hwan Hua and his wife Datin Neow Ean Lee.


On April 18, the judge also granted leave for i-Serve to commence a judicial review to challenge the freezing orders issued by BNM, which had frozen several of its accounts since last November.

Wan Ahmad Farid ruled that the company and the other applicants had shown there is a prima facie case for the firm to challenge the legality of the freezing orders, as it was not stated who the subject of the purported money laundering investigation was.


The court also ruled that they may be entitled to damages, if the issuance of the freezing orders is found to be unlawful.


Following the first leave being granted, BNM issued several seizure orders claiming that this had rendered i-Serve's legal challenge to be academic.


However, this led i-Serve to file the second judicial review against BNM, the AGC and NFCC.

In court papers sighted by The Edge, i-Serve and its principals are claiming that the seizure orders were defective, and issued in bad faith flowing from the earlier freezing orders. i-Serve also claims that the freezing and seizure orders may destroy its business.


In recent months, i-Serve has been in the limelight, as MYAirline Sdn Bhd, which is believed to be its sister company, has been granted an airline licence by the Malaysian Aviation Commission to operate a low-cost full-service airline.


If launched, MYAirline could pose competition to no-frills airline AirAsia.


The company and the other applicants were represented by Datuk DP Naban, Rosli Dahlan, Chetan Jethwani, and Amiratu Al Amirat from Messrs Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership in Thursday's proceedings.


In the first judicial review filed last Jan 26, they named BNM, the central bank's financial intelligence and enforcement department (FIED) director Mohd Fuad Arshad, FIED manager Sarah Syamimi Mohd Suhaimi, FIED officers Muhammad Banjumaswira Ishak and Maisarah Najla Mansor, as well as AGG deputy public prosecutor Kamal Baharin Omar.


Kamal is now the deputy director-general of the NFCC.


It is understood that i-Serve has made several representations claiming that the actions by BNM were done mala fide (in bad faith), and designed to destroy its business.


The firm claims that it has over the years won many prestigious small and medium enterprise (SME) awards, and would be a "Malaysian SME unicorn", until the acts of sabotage by BNM. A unicorn refers to a start-up valued at more than US$1 billion (RM4.45 billion).


i-Serve also alleged that BNM had issued false and defamatory statements to characterise its business as being in violation of the law, and has strenuously denied the central bank's allegations.

According to sources close to the investigation, i-Serve has offered to abide by all of BNM's conditions, and is even willing to pay a compound in order to put a stop to the endless legal battles in court.





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