Shafee claims trial to money laundering charges (Updated)

13 Sep 2018 / 22:34 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah pleaded not guilty in the sessions court today to four charges related to receiving RM9.5 million from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in 2013 and 2014.
He claimed trial to:
>> two charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities (AMLA) Act 2001 involving RM4.3 million and RM5.2 million allegedly received from Najib; and
>> two charges of violating the Income Tax Act 1967 by omitting the income received from Najib in statements made to the Inland Revenue Board on two occasions in 2015.
The prosecution requested bail be set at RM2.5 million but judge Azura Alwi allowed an application by the defence for lower bail, and set it at RM1 million in two sureties while ordering Muhammad Shafee's diplomatic and Malaysian passports be surrendered to the court.
Azura also allowed a request by the defence for half the bail amount to be posted today with the balance on Sept 18.
On the first and second charges, Muhammad Shafee is alleged to have engaged in money laundering by receiving proceeds from unlawful activities through two AmIslamic Bank cheques for RM4.3 million and RM5.2 million issued by Najib that were deposited into his CIMB Bank account.
He allegedly committed the offences at CIMB Bank in Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku, on Sept 13, 2013 and Feb 17, 2014. The offences carry a fine of up to RM5 million or up to five years' imprisonment, or both.
On the third and fourth charges, Muhammad Shafee is alleged to have filed two incorrect tax returns in contravention of Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967, by omitting the income he received totalling RM9.5 million.
He is alleged to have committed the offences on March 3 and June 29, 2015 at Inland Revenue Board office in Jalan Duta.
Muhammad Shafee was taken to the Duta Court Complex at 11.20am by Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers after being apprehended at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport as he was about to board a flight to Penang this morning.
In court, Muhammad Shafee said he would be making a formal application to recuse lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram from the case.
"I am telling you this today because I do not want to be accused of making the application as an afterthought ... as he represents Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a suit in the Court of Appeal."
Gopal replied that he would wait for Muhammad Shafee to make the application before responding.
The prosecution was led by Gopal, a former Federal Court judge and prosecutors from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) comprising Kamal Baharin Omar, Ahmad Akram Gharib, Afzainizam Abdul Aziz dan Regine Sin.
The defence team led by Harvinderji Singh comprised Datuk Hasnal Rezva Merican, Chetan Jethwani, Sarah Abishegam, Rahmat Hazlan and Muhammad Farhan Shafee.
Muhammad Shafee had been in the spotlight after Anwar said on Sept 7 that an officer from the AGC had signed an affidavit alleging that Muhammad Shafee had received payments amounting to RM9.5 million from Najib in 2013 and 2014 to lead the prosecution against Anwar in his appeal against his second sodomy conviction in 2015.
Muhammad Shafee had denied the allegations, claiming the payments were for legal services for Umno and Barisan Nasional in about 46 election petitions.
"I only asked in 2013 because I needed it to purchase a property to help a friend. The money from Najib was a loan. This is why I couldn't declare it to the Inland Revenue Board yet. I have not rationalised the billing for the years of services I have provided," he said.
"How can they say I received money by illegal means? I accepted the money for the payment of my legal services. Am I supposed to ask (Najib), if the money is from illegal means?"
He claimed his arrest and being charged in court was a "bullying tactic" because he was representing Najib.
"But those who know me personally will know, that the more pressure I face, the stronger I get," he said, adding he was confident of winning the case as the charges against him were not strong.

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