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Saturday, October 29, 2022

Court frees Shafee in RM9.5m money laundering case


Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah walked free from four criminal charges linked to RM9.5 million from former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning ruled that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie case against the veteran legal practitioner.

Today was set for a decision at the end of the prosecution’s case involving the alleged laundering of the funds.

During the open-court proceedings, trial judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin said the prosecution failed to prove that the two cheques - one worth RM4.3 million and the other RM5.2 million - were the proceeds from unlawful activities.

The judge noted that the prosecution’s own witnesses only showed that the cheques were deposited into Shafee’s account, whereby the accused himself does not deny receiving the monies.

“The prosecution failed to show that these monies were the result of unlawful activity,” Jamil said, adding that prosecutors failed to establish any predicate evidence that Najib or anybody else was linked to any unlawful activity.

“To prove that the RM4.3 million and the RM5.2 million are the proceeds of unlawful activity, the prosecution must prove the unlawful activity whereby the money was obtained.

“I find from the testimony proffered by the prosecution that there is no evidence on any predicate offence involving the RM4.3 million and RM5.2 million,” Jamil said.

Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz appeared for the prosecution, while Shafee was represented by defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh.

When met by the media after proceedings, Harvinderjit expressed his gratitude to the court as well as his defence team, adding that he hopes the prosecution would not appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh.

“The reasoning (by the High Court) is very sound and some of the reasoning is groundbreaking under Amla (Anti-Money Laundering Act), especially on whether the transactions (receiving cheques from Najib) were caught under it or not,” Shafee said.

The prosecution’s contention was that Shafee committed money laundering when receiving the RM9.5 million from Najib and allegedly made false declarations to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).

The case

The prosecutors rested their case on May 12 after calling eight witnesses in the trial which began on May 21 last year.

Among the witnesses were Ambank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi, CIMB Bank Bukit Tunku branch manager Rosnita Ahmad, former IRB officer Syed Nasrul Fahmi Syed Mohamad and MACC investigating officer Mohamad Farid Jabar.

On Sept 13, 2018, Shafee claimed trial for receiving proceeds from unlawful activity via cheques issued by Najib, which were remitted into the accused’s CIMB Bank Berhad account.

He allegedly received a cheque for RM4.3 million on Sept 13, 2013, and another for RM5.2 million on Feb 17, 2014.

The offences were allegedly committed at CIMB Bank Bhd, Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur.

The lawyer was also charged with two counts of engaging in transactions resulting from illegal activities, namely submitting incorrect tax returns, which is in violation of paragraph 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967 for the financial years ending Dec 31, 2013, and Dec 31, 2014.

He was purported to have omitted income of RM4.3 million received on Sept 13, 2013, and RM5.2 million that was received on Feb 17, 2014, in his tax returns.

The money was received through two AmIslamic Bank Berhad accounts belonging to Najib and deposited into his two CIMB Bank Berhad accounts.

The offences were purportedly committed at IRB's Jalan Duta branch at Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim on March 3, 2015, and June 29, 2015.

The charges were laid under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, specifying a fine of up to RM5 million or up to five years in jail or both upon conviction. - Mkini

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