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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Shafee's lawyers seek to expunge majority of prosecution witness' testimony

Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s legal team is objecting against large chunks of the proposed testimony of a key prosecution witness in the lawyer’s RM9.5 million money laundering trial.

Lead defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh raised the preliminary objection against the witness statement of former Inland Revenue Board (IRB) officer Syed Nasrul Fahmi Syed Mohamad.

The sixth prosecution witness is yet to take the witness stand during the proceedings before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin.

Today's money laundering trial was in relation to the RM9.5 million that Shafee (above) received from former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Harvinderjit contended that 33 paragraphs out of the total 51 paragraphs be expunged due to their alleged prejudicial element.

The lawyer claimed that the upcoming prosecution witness is not a legal expert but made statements in the proposed testimony that sounded like legal pronouncements.

Harvinderjit claimed that a reading of the witness statement seemed to show that the witness has arrived at a finding of guilty against Shafee, of which only a proper judge is in a position to do.

“It is strange when one reads the witness statement. His (Syed Nasrul) qualification is accountancy and not law, and yet he gives an opinion (via the witness statement) about the interpretation of the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

“That is a legal opinion and the only person who can give a legal opinion is Yang Arif,” Harvinderjit informed Jamil.

Lead defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh

Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz then objected against the defence’s bid to expunge 33 paragraphs out of the total 51 paragraphs of Syed Nasrul’s witness statement.

The prosecutor contended that the issues raised by the defence are very serious and should be dealt with first.

“If the court rules not in our favour, then it means we cannot use the witness statement altogether.

“If expunged, it would mess up the evidence to be tendered by the prosecution.

“We are opposing the objection and would like to deal with it first on a later date,” Afzainizam said.

However, Jamil told parties that he would wish to hear Syed Nasrul read out from his witness testimony first when the trial resumes on Dec 8.

The judge said he would then be in a better position to decide over the defence’s objections. Proceedings then adjourned today.

Claimed trial to four charges

On Sept 13, 2018, at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, Shafee claimed trial to four charges linked to the RM9.5 million allegedly received from Najib, via two cheques. 

The lawyer was charged with two counts of money laundering over the RM9.5 million, which he was accused of receiving in two tranches, the first RM4.3 million on Sept 13, 2013, and the second payment of RM5.2 million on Feb 17, 2014.

Shafee was also charged with two counts of involvement in transactions of proceeds from unlawful activity, by making inaccurate statements in relation to the payments on March 3 and June 29, 2015.

The 69-year-old lawyer was alleged to have deposited the two cheques into his personal account at a CIMB Bank branch in Bukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur.

For the first two charges, Shafee was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act (Amla) 2001.

The other two charges are framed under Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967.

The case was later transferred to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

Najib is facing numerous separate criminal trials, among them the RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption case. His counsel is Shafee. - Mkini

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