Prosecution to prove Shafee received RM9.5 mln ‘fee’ from Najib, concealed it from IRB
(Bernama) – The prosecution in Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s money-laundering trial will prove that the accused in his capacity as an advocate and solicitor received RM9.5 million as his ‘fee’ from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak but had intentionally suppressed that fact from the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).
Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz, when reading out his opening statement in Muhammad Shafee’s trial today, said the 69-year-old accused received the payment from the former prime minister in two tranches in 2013 and 2014.
“A sum of RM4.3 million was received on Sept 5, 2013. The cheque for this sum was deposited into his personal account with CIMB bank at a branch close to his office. This payment forms part of the subject matter of the first charge. The accused did not declare this sum to IRB in the return he filed as required by law.
“The second tranche of RM5.2 million was deposited into the accused’s same bank account on Feb 17, 2014. This forms the subject matter of the second charge. The accused did not declare this to IRB in the return he filed as required by law. The prosecution will establish these facts later,” he told High Court Judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin on the first day of the trial.
Afzainizam explained that the prosecution’s case in respect of the first and second charges is that the circumstances in which the monies were received and concealed from IRB constitute evidence from which the court may irresistibly infer that the accused engaged in an unlawful activity and thereby committed the offence of money laundering contrary to Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.
Touching on the third and fourth charges of making false statements to IRB, Afzainizam said the prosecution will prove that the accused contravened Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967.
“This is a scheduled offence and hence a serious offence, the commission of which constitutes unlawful activity and therefore amounts to money laundering, by definition. It is the prosecution’s case that on this basis, the accused committed the offence of money laundering contrary to Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
“The prosecution will prove that the accused gave inconsistent versions as to the reason for the payments in question,” he said.
The prosecutor added that on July 28, 2017, when the accused gave a statement to a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer, he said that the money in question was his fee, but the said money was deposited into the accused’s personal bank account and not into his firm’s (Shafee & Co) account.
“A further statement was recorded from the accused on Sept 11, 2018, and in that statement, Muhammad Shafee said that on Sept 5, 2013, he and Najib agreed that the money in question was to be a loan to the accused pending rationalisation of the fee already payable to him.
“In the course of this statement being recorded, the accused handed to the recording officer a letter purported to have been written by him on Sept 12, 2013 and purporting to carry Najib’s initials. The prosecution does not accept this letter as genuine.
“It will be our case that the letter was brought into existence at a time well after July 28, 2017. We will rely on circumstantial evidence to support our case on this point. We will also rely on this circumstantial evidence to establish mens rea on the part of the accused in the commission of the offence,” he said.
Afzainizam also pointed out that the accused in a written press statement dated Sept 8, 2018 said that the payment of RM9.5 million was fees due to him pending the rationalisation of the paper work as agreed by Najib.
The prosecution will contend that that press statement when read as a whole tells against the monies being a loan, he said.
On Sept 13, 2018, Muhammad Shafee pleaded not guilty to receiving proceeds from unlawful activity via cheques issued by Najib, which were remitted into Muhammad Shafee’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. He allegedly committed the two offences at CIMB Bank Bhd, J2 & K1, Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku here.
The charges, under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, carry a fine not exceeding RM5 million or up to five years’ jail or both upon conviction.
Muhammad Shafee is also facing two charges of being involved in transactions of proceeds from unlawful activity, that is by making inaccurate statements and in contravention of paragraph 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967 for financial years ending Dec 31, 2013 and Dec 31, 2014. He allegedly committed the offences at IRB’s Duta branch at Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan, Jalan Tunku Abdul Halim here on March 3, 2015 and June 29, 2015.
For this, Muhammad Shafee is liable to be jailed a maximum of 15 years and fined not less than five times the amount of proceeds from the unlawful activity, if convicted.