by BERNAMA / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
Renowned lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was charged in the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur (KL) yesterday on two counts of receiving money from illegal activities amounting to RM9.5 million from former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and two counts of making incorrect filings under the Income Tax Act 1967 (ITA).
Muhammad Shafee, 66, however, pleaded not guilty on the two charges of receiving money from illegal activities and two charges of making incorrect returns without stating the amount of RM9.5 million in his tax returns, thus breaching the ITA.
The charges against him were read before Justice Azura Alwi.
On the first and second charges, Muhammad Shafee was alleged to be involved in money laundering activities by receiving proceeds from the illegal activities, each amounting to RM4.3 million and RM5.2 million via two cheques from AmIslamic Bank Bhd belonging to Najib, which were credited into two CIMB Bank Bhd accounts belonging to the accused.
Muhammad Shafee was accused of committing both offences at a CIMB Bank branch at Taman Tunku in Bukit Tunku, KL, on Sept 13, 2013, and Feb 17, 2014. Both charges were filed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (AMLATFA), which provides for a maximum fine of RM5 million and imprisonment not exceeding five years or both, upon conviction.
Under the two counts concerning the ITA, the accused is charged with being involved directly in transactions involving proceeds from illegal activities namely making an incorrect tax return breaching Paragraph 113(1)(a) of the ITA for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2013.
For the charge, he is accused of leaving out income received on Sept 13, 2013, amounting to RM4.3 million and income received on Feb 17, 2014, amounting to RM5.2 million via two AmIslamic Bank cheques belonging to Najib which were credited into two CIMB Bank accounts belonging to the accused, where the accused was required by the ITA to make a filing.
Muhammad Shafee is alleged to have committed both offences at the Inland Revenue Board, Duta branch, Government Office Complex Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim, on March 3, 2015, and June 29, 2015.
The charges were filed under Section 4(1)(a) AntiMoney Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities 2001 (AMLATFAPUA) which provides for a jail sentence not exceeding 15 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of unlawful activities at the time the offences were committed or RM5 million, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
Former Federal Court Judge and senior counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram led the prosecution team, assisted by deputy public prosecutors (DPPs) Kamal Baharin Omar, Ahmad Akram Gharib and Afzainizam Abdul Aziz.
Muhammad Shafee is represented by counsels Harvinder Singh, Chetan Jethwani, Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican, Sarah Abishegan, Rahmat Hazlan and Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee.
Muhammad Shafee, who was standing inside the accused’s dock, explained to the court that he never avoided being arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer.
He said no one can travel internationally or domestically without booking a ticket.
“I came back from Johor Baru around 6pm. If there was an MACC officer waiting for me, he would have seen me in my attire. One MACC officer asked me what car I was travelling in…even a blind bat could see that car. I have not changed my car.
“I had a quick dinner and went to Pavilion to see Najib on another matter. My phone was broken and I gave an MACC officer my daughter’s number, so they could call my daughter’s number,” he said from the dock.
Muhammad Shafee also said the allegation that he was resorting to a magic show to MACC was not fair.
At this juncture Azura interjected and said: “That is enough Tan Sri.”
Muhammad Shafee is also seeking to get Sri Ram to recuse himself from leading the prosecution team.
He informed the judge that he will file a formal application to disqualify Sri Ram from conducting his case as the latter is currently the counsel representing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Court of Appeal in a civil case pertaining to the same RM9.5 million issue.
“The reason why I am speaking up now is because I do not want to be accused of having an afterthought. I do not want him (Sri Ram) to be in any way involved in this case,” he said, adding that Sri Ram in that capacity is not independent as he has an agenda.
Muhammad Shafee also revealed in an open court that he has a history with Sri Ram in the sense that they did not have a pleasant relationship.
“We do not have a very pleasant relationship. We pretend to be civil to each other in court…lukewarm at best,” he said, adding that it started in late 1970s pertaining to cases in court.
Sri Ram then stood up and replied: “I await the application.”
Earlier, the court allowed Muhammad Shafee to be released on RM1 million bail with two sureties and ordered for his two passports to be surrendered to the court until the disposal of his case and set Oct 2 for mention. — Bernama