The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has dropped its charges against Paul Stadlen, the ex-PR adviser of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and UMNO lawyer Mohd Hafarizam Harun. Multiple media outlets including Bernama and The Star reported that both were charged under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act concerning RM15 million.
Stadlen has "voluntarily released" RM7,192,873.84 which would be transferred to the 1MDB account, The Star and Bernama said. MACC said the decision was made after considering that the amount was "justified to be forfeited". At the same time, the case against Stadlen was also withdrawn. Stadlen was formerly MD of APCO Worldwide Malaysia and left the country before the 14th Malaysian General Elections in 2018, MACC said previously. At APCO, Stadlen was reported to have assisted Najib in his PR campaigns. The GE14 marked a watershed victory for Pakatan Harapan when it ousted Barisan Nasional, ending the latter's uninterrupted rule since 1957.
Meanwhile, Mohd Hafarizam also agreed to pay a compound of RMRM590,587.26. According to The Star, he was acquitted of three money laundering charges involving RM15 million which he reportedly received from Najib. Charges against him were dropped after he agreed to pay the compound.
Najib was not the only individual to have brought on board an individual to assist in managing his public image. In March this year, Myanmar's junta was reported by Reuters to be paying an Israeli-Canadian lobbyist Ari Ben-Menashe and his firm, Dickens & Madson Canada US$2 million to "assist in explaining the real situation” of the military coup to the US and other countries. Ben-Menashe has also proposed to provide media and public relations services to further Myanmar’s goals and activities.
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