PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The lawyer of Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah says his client is not a flight risk as he has three wives to come home to.
Shafee, who is facing money-laundering charges totalling RM9.5mil, succeeded in his bid to reclaim his passport to travel to Australia for work purposes.
"He has got three wives, his family are all here. There is no reason for him not to come back," Shafee's lawyer Harvinderjit Singh told the Court of Appeal on Friday (June 21).
Harvinderjit added that Shafee was not a flight risk and that he had travelled overseas four times after the charges and had returned to Malaysia.
A Court of Appeal three-member bench comprising Justices Ahmadi Asnawi, Rhodzariah Bujang and Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah allowed Shafee's application for the release of his passport to travel to Sydney, Australia from June 24 until July 1.
"We are of the view that there was a real need for the applicant to be with the solicitors and client there," said Justice Ahmadi, who chaired the bench.
He said there was no evidence that Shafee was a flight risk, adding that the prosecution has not shown any evidence of this.
"We are mindful that the accused person in the Australia case is entitled to have a solicitor of his own choice," Justice Ahmadi said.
Lawyer Harvinderjit told the court that Shafee would return his passport to the court by July 3 and would also report his return from Australia.
Shafee is facing two charges of money-laundering involving RM9.5mil that he allegedly received from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He was also charged under the Income Tax Act with two counts of making false declarations to the Inland Revenue Board by not including the RM9.5mil in his tax filing for the year.
On May 14, this year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Shafee's application for the release of his passport, which was impounded by the court, to attend to a client, a Malaysian, who is facing drug trafficking charges in a court in Australia.
High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah held that Shafee's presence in Australia, requested in a letter dated May 13, 2019, was merely to assist the case as there were Australian solicitors on record.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz countered, saying that Shafee had no reason to be in Australia as the client has a local counsel. – Bernama