KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — About 10 prosecution witnesses will be called during the trial of senior lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who is facing two counts of money laundering, involving RM9.5 million allegedly received from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and two charges of making false statements to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).
Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz informed Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin during the case management today.
Counsel Sarah Abishegam, representing Muhammad Shafee, told the court the dates to hear the case could be set after the disposal of two of her client’s applications to challenge the appointment of former federal court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as lead prosecutor.
The applications were currently in the appeal stage in the Court of Appeal, Putrajaya.
“We are asking for his appeals to be disposed of pending the start of this trial because it is related to the independence of the prosecutor.
“Tan Sri is also handling the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case at the moment and it would be harshly taxing if he had to attend to his matter and Datuk Seri Najib’s case at the same time,” said the lawyer.
In response to this, Judge Muhammad Jamil said the trial dates could be blocked first as the case had taken a long time since it was first registered in 2018.
Afzainizam then informed the court that Sri Ram, who is also the prosecutor in Muhammad Shafee’s case, would only be available from March 2021 onwards.
The court set 10 days, on May 7, 21 and 28; June 4 and 11; July 1, 2, 22 and 23 and Aug 6, for the trial.
On Sept 13, 2018, Muhammad Shafee, 68, pleaded not guilty to receiving proceeds from unlawful activity via cheques issued by Najib, which were then remitted into his CIMB Bank Bhd account
He allegedly received a cheque for RM4.3 million on Sept 13, 2013, and another for RM5.2 million on Feb 17, 2014, and committed the two offences at CIMB Bank, J2 & K1, Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku, here.
The charge, framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, carries 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 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 for a maximum of 15 years and fined not less than five times the amount of proceeds from the unlawful activity. — Bernama