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i-Serve Online Mall Granted Leave To Challenge Freezing Of Accounts By BNM In Court

18 APRIL 2022

KUALA LUMPUR (April 18): The High Court (Appellate and Special Power division) on Monday granted leave (permission) for i-Serve Online Mall Sdn Bhd's judicial review application to challenge several orders by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to freeze several of its accounts since November last year.

The decision was made by Justice Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh who ruled that the applicants, namely i-Serve Online Mall, i-Serve Technology & Vacations Sdn Bhd, Advance Digital Ventures Bhd, Trillion Cove Holdings and three individuals, have shown there is a prima facie case.

"Hence, the court grants leave for judicial review," the judge said.

In making the decision to grant leave, the court said the challenge instituted by the companies and the three applicants is not against the purported criminal investigation per se, but the illegality of the freezing orders as it did not even state who the subject of the money-laundering investigation was.The court also ruled that the applicants would be entitled to damages if there was wrongful issuance of the freezing orders.

The three other individuals who are applicants with i-Serve Online Mall are its shareholders Datuk Goh Hwan Hua, Boon Soon Heng and Goh's wife Datin Neow Ean Lee.

No date was fixed by the High Court to hear the merits of the judicial review application but it fixed May 13 for case management before its senior assistant registrar Siti Norawatey Rusli.

The applicants were represented by Datuk DP Naban, Rosli Dahlan and Amiratu Al Amirat from Messrs Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership, who confirmed the decision with

Federal counsel M Kogilambigai appeared for the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC).

The applicants filed the judicial review application on Jan 26 this year, naming 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 the AGC's deputy public prosecutor Kamal Baharin Omar.

BNM issued a freezing order under Section 44(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds from Unlawful Activity Act on Nov 11 last year. Four days later, the central bank issued a press release stating that i-Serve Online Mall and its affiliates had been raided and claimed the cash was seized instead of frozen.

The company solicitors then wrote to BNM to clarify the press release on Nov 18, but the central bank denied the request for clarification in a Nov 22 letter.

On Jan 26, i-Serve Online Mall, its shareholders Goh, Boon and Neow as well as i-Serve Technology & Vacations Sdn Bhd, Advance Digital Ventures Bhd and Trillion Cove Holdings Bhd filed the judicial review application against BNM and its officers, challenging the freeze order.

In late January, BNM issued a letter to lift the freezing of some 10 accounts related to i-Serve Online Mall and its affiliates.

Edited by Joyce Goh

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