KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here was told on Thursday (May 12) that lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had tried to hide the 'identity' of the RM9.5 million received from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as a loan, when the money was paid for legal services rendered to UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN).
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Mohamad Farid Jabar said that based on two recordings of statements taken by the MACC in 2017 and 2018, Muhammad Shafee said that the RM9.5 million was for legal fees, but in another recorded statement and a media statement, the lawyer said the money was a loan.
"Initially, Tan Sri Shafee had his statement recorded (recordings in 2017 and 2018) as a witness related to the receipt of RM9.5 million from Datuk Seri Najib, whereby Tan Sri Shafee was one of those who received money from Datuk Seri Najib, when the latter was being investigated by the MACC.
"Tan Sri Shafee's explanation through the two recorded statements that I obtained clearly proves that the receipt of RM9.5 million was the payment of legal fees for the 2004 and 2006 election petition cases that had been completed," he said, adding that the statements were recorded by two MACC officers.
The eighth prosecution witness said this during re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz in the trial of Muhammad Shafee, who is charged with receiving RM9.5 million in funds obtained from illegal activities from Najib, and two counts of making false statements to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN).
Mohamad Farid said he had lodged a complaint on Sept 4, 2018, over the alleged offence of receiving RM9.5 million by Muhammad Shafee, whereby the senior lawyer was a suspect in his investigation paper.
"The investigation done by me was aimed at finding out whether the receipt of two cheques amounting to RM9.5 million had been declared in Form B for the years of assessment (LHDN) 2013 and 2014, from there, my investigation found that it was not reported.
"My investigation also found that, based on the recordings and media statements, he (Muhammad Shafee) tried to hide the true identity of the RM9.5 million he received as a loan, when the RM9.5 million was actually payment for legal services provided by Tan Sri Shafee to UMNO and BN,” he said.
To Afzainizam's question as to why he did not issue a notice to Muhammad Shafee and Shafee & Co, to submit invoices regarding the legal fees to UMNO and BN, Mohamad Farid said Muhammad Shafee himself had confirmed that he did not request any invoices from Najib, because he was 'shy' to do so.
"Besides that, the cheque (RM9.5 million) was made personally by Datuk Seri Najib to Tan Sri Shafee because the 2004 and 2006 election petition cases had been completed," he explained.
After the final prosecution witness finished testifying, Afzainizam informed Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin that the prosecution had rested its case.
"The prosecution rests its case today after calling eight witnesses. The prosecution does not offer any witnesses to the defence,” he said.
Counsel Harvinderjit Singh who represented Muhammad Shafee thanked the prosecution and Judge Muhammad Jamil for hearing the case.
Judge Muhammad Jamil then ordered both parties to submit the notes of the proceedings on June 12 for the court to examine and compare them with the court recording transcript (CRT) to determine the accuracy.
"Both parties must also file written submissions on or before July 26 and oral submissions have been set for Sept 15," he added.
Among the prosecution witnesses called to testify at the trial which began on May 21, 2021, were Ambank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R.Uma Devi, CIMB Bank Bukit Tunku branch manager Rosnita Ahmad and former IRB officer Syed Nasrul Fahmi Syed Mohamad.
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.
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 the LHDN's Jalan Duta branch at Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan, Jalan Tuanku 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. - Bernama