KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Prominent lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was today granted permission to travel to Sydney, Australia for another court case amid the ongoing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Shafee, who is Najib’s lead defence counsel, assured the High Court that his September 12 to 16 travel plans would not disrupt the 1MDB proceedings when making an application for the return of his impounded passport.
“Yang Arif, I ask for your kind indulgence for the release of my passport from the 12th to 16th,” the lawyer said during today’s proceeding, pointing out that he had kept his word when allowed to travel overseas previously.
The 1MDB trial will be on a scheduled break from September 13, a Friday, to the following Monday, which is September 16, and a public holiday to commemorate Malaysia Day. The court previously agreed not to hold trial for 1MDB on Fridays.
Shafee indicated that he would be back in time for the continuation of Najib’s 1MDB trial on September 17.
“I will be back by the 15th or the 16th. I would not disrupt one hour of Yang Arif’s time,” he told High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib objected, arguing that Shafee, who is also charged with money laundering, was a “flight risk”.
The private lawyer has claimed trial to two money laundering charges involving RM9.5 million that he allegedly received from Najib, and another two counts of making false declarations to the Inland Revenue Board by excluding the RM9.5 million in his tax filing.
But 1MDB trial judge Sequerah agreed to release Shafee’s passport for travel between September 12 and 16.
Due to the charges against him, Shafee has had to surrender his passport and he is required to apply afresh each time he wishes to travel outside Malaysia.
Previously, the High Court rejected Shafee’s application on May 14 to reclaim his passport to attend to a Malaysian facing drug trafficking charges in an Australian, however, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision and allowed the lawyer to fly to Sydney from June 14 to July 1.