RM9.5 million from Najib was an advance to buy property, says Shafee

Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is facing four charges under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, facing four charges under the anti-money laundering law, said the RM9.5 million which he received in 2013 and 2014 from then prime minister Najib Razak was meant as a loan for property purchase.

Shafee, who has long represented Umno, said he had never asked for payment from the party for his legal services.

“I only asked in 2013 because I was in need to purchase a property to help a friend,” he told reporters today, after he was slapped with four charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

“The money was given to me as an advance or loan, until I rationalised the billing,” he added.

He said once the rationalisation was done, it would be reflected in his tax returns.

Shafee today claimed trial to four charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, over two deposits from Najib totalling RM9.5 million.

Two of the charges against Shafee were related to his failure to declare the amount when filing his tax returns in 2015.

He was allowed bail of RM1 million, half of which he paid today. The court has set Oct 2 for case mention.

The payment to Shafee was at the centre of PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim’s suit against the government to quash his sodomy conviction in 2015.

The High Court in November last year struck out the suit, saying Anwar had not given any evidence to support his allegations. Anwar had recently revealed the contents of an affidavit by an officer in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, showing documents to prove two cheques from Najib deposited into Shafee’s bank account.

Shafee, who was specially appointed by the government to lead the prosecution against Anwar, said last week that the RM9.5 million was paid by Najib to represent Barisan Nasional in election petition cases.

Shafee today said his role as a fiat prosecutor in the Anwar trial was only to argue for the government’s appeal based on notes of proceeding taken during the trial.

“I never fixed the evidence,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shafee said investigators had yet to record statements from all witnesses.

He questioned the charges against him today, saying the probe was incomplete.

He said that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was supposed to call Najib as a key witness for questioning over the RM9.5 million payment.

“The meeting was cancelled as I have been taken to court today and they (MACC) have yet to fix another date to interview him,” he said.

“He has yet to be called to collaborate or deny his payment to me and the investigators and public prosecutors have decided to charge me today,” he said.

On his trial, Shafee said he was considering whether to have his case transferred to the High Court.

“To me, a High Court judge is more suited to hear my case. I would want an independent judge to hear it, and not someone who favours one side as I believe that we will win our case before an independent judge,” he said.