AMLA MALAYSIA: Instituting A Civil Action After Seizure-Is It Possible?

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Can a party institute a civil action against an offending party after the offending party’s assets and properties are seized under AMLA? This question was briefly analyzed and dealt with in Protasco Bhd v PT Anglo Slavic Utama & Ors1, which we will briefly have a look at in this article.

Brief facts of the case

Protasco instituted a suit against its former directors who had fraudulently caused Protasco to enter into a transaction to acquire shares from PT Anglo in return for rights to develop and produce oil and gas in Indonesia. It all went south as Protasco suffered loss and damage in the sum of USD27 Million. Long story short, this case was fought on multiple fronts, involving both civil and criminal suits under Section 131(1) of the (repealed) Companies Act2, Section 181, 409 and 420 of the Penal Code3. The former directors’ assets and properties were also seized4 and forfeited5 under AMLA.

Focusing on the question

We will not look at the contention today. Instead, we will look at the court’s analysis in regards to the question posted above.

For clarity sake, it must be noted that the court’s analysis came from the parties’ contention on whether a party needs the consent of the prosecutor under Section 54(3) of AMLA to maintain a civil action against an offending party if the public prosecutor has already seized the offending party’s property under AMLA6. The court decided that it is good to look at whether Section 54(3) imposes a general restriction to all suits or whether it is specific only to those suits involved in the seizing exercise under Section 54(3) of AMLA first before diving into the parties’ contention.

So what does Section 54(3) says? Let us have a look:

“For so long as a seizure of any property under this Act remains in force, no action, suit or other proceedings of a civil nature shall be instituted, or if it is pending immediately before such seizure. be maintained or continued in any court or before any other authority in respect of the property which has been so seized, and no attachment, execution or other similar processes shall be commenced, or if any such process is pending immediately before such seizure, be maintained or continued, in respect of such property on account of any claim, judgment or decree, regardless whether such claim was made, or such judgment or decree was given, before or after such seizure was effected, except at the instance of the Federal Government or the Government of a State, or at the instance of a local authority or other statutory authority, or except with the prior consent in writing of the Public Prosecutor.”

The court’s analysis and rationale

The court states that Section 54(3) does not impose a general restriction on all suits. In its analysis, the court relied on the Court of Appeal case of Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd v Tio Jit Hong & Ors7, which had this to say:

“Be that as it may, having referred to the cases cited related to the issue, we were more inclined to agree with Mohamad Arif Yusof J in Dato’ Zahari Sulaiman v Genneva Sdn Bhd (supra) which in our view is the correct interpretation of Section 54(3). His Lordship in allowing summary judgment to be entered explained that Section 54(3) of AMLA cannot be read the way the defendant wants it to be read, for to do so will interfere with the general fundamental right of a citizen to resort to the court process and access to justice for the determination of his dispute. Section 54(3), as presently worded, cannot be reasonably interpreted as imposing a general restraining order on all suits, actions or proceedings as against all litigants or potential litigants, and irrespective of the properties seized…”

So if a general restraining order cannot be imposed upon an accused, what is the alternative? In the same case (Genneva Malaysia), the court approved an earlier case of Dato’ Zahari Sulaiman v Genneva Sdn Bhd8 which states9:

“I agree with the view of my learned brother that Section 54(3) AMLA cannot be read as imposing a general restrain (sic) on the legal process. The restrained (sic) must be confined to the property seized...”

So to answer the question posted above- yes, a party can still institute a civil action against an offending party after the offending party’s assets and properties are seized under AMLA, provided that the civil suit has no relation at all the assets and properties seized.


Other related articles:

  1. Properties Held Under Trust – Can It Be Seized Under AMLA?
  2. AMLA Malaysia – What Are The Rights Accorded To An Information Provider?
  3. AMLA Malaysia – Challenging An Act of Seizure By Way Of Judicial Review
  4. AMLA Malaysia – How To Report A Suspicious Transaction?
  5. Forfeiture of Properties 12 Months After Seizing/ Freezing-Is It Possible?

Have more question regarding AMLA? Book a consultation with us:


1. [2020] MLJU 1413.

2. 1965.

3. 1950.

4. Section 50 (1), Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing And Proceeds Of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLA) 2001.

5. Section 56 (1), Ibid.

6. Specifically, Section 50 (1) of Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing And Proceeds Of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLA) 2001.

7. [2020] MLJU 175.

8. [2011] 6 CLJ 219.

9. Dato’Zahari Sulaiman v Genneva Sdn Bhd [2011] 6 CLJ 219, Paragraph 51.