KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has been acquitted of all four charges related to money laundering and making false declarations to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Friday (Oct 28).
The decision was delivered by Justice Muhammad Jamil Hussin.
“I found that in the first and second charges, the prosecution had failed to prove that the RM4.3mil and RM5.2mil were from illegal proceeds. I have given the reasons.
“My findings also apply to the third and fourth charges,” he said when reading his judgment.
Muhammad Jamil also said the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case for the third and fourth charges.
“The accused is acquitted and freed from the four charges without being called to enter his defence,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz acted for the prosecution. Muhammad Shafee was represented by his lawyers Harvinderjit Singh, Farhan Read and Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee.
Eight witnesses were called in the trial which started on May 21 last year after the prosecution closed its case on May 12.
The charges were related to funds amounting to RM9.5mil allegedly received from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is currently incarcerated, as well as for making false declarations to LHDN.
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 RM4.3mil on Sept 13, 2013, and another for RM5.2mil on Feb 17, 2014.
The offences were allegedly committed at CIMB Bank Bhd, Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku here.
Muhammad Shafee was also charged with two counts of engaging in transactions resulting from illegal activities, namely submitting incorrect tax returns, in violation of paragraph 113 (1) (a) of the Income Tax Act 1967 for the financial years ending Dec 31, 2013 and Dec 31, 2014.
He was alleged to have omitted income of RM4.3mil received on Sept 13, 2013, and RM5.2mil that was received on Feb 17, 2014 in his tax returns.
The money was received through two AmIslamic Bank Berhad belonging to Najib and deposited into his (Muhammad Shafee) two CIMB Bank Berhad accounts.
The offences were allegedly committed at LHDN's Jalan Duta branch at Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim here on March 3, 2015 and June 29, 2015.
The charges were framed 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 RM5mil or up to five years' jail or both upon conviction.
At a press conference at the court complex later, Muhammad Shafee described the reasons provided by the judge in his decision as "groundbreaking".
“You heard what the judge said this morning about the reasons provided for acquittal on all four charges without my defence needing to be called.
"I think the reasons provided are not only sound, they are also original and groundbreaking in (anti-money laundering) law actually.
"This is especially so in the element of transactions – the definition, and whether or not my activity fell within it," he added.