KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — Johor Baru Umno chief Tan Sri Shahrir Samad was charged today with committing money-laundering by allegedly failing to disclose income after receiving a RM1 million cheque from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2013.
Shahrir, who was wearing a dark blue blazer, pleaded not guilty to the money-laundering charge when his case was brought up before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi.
Shahrir was accused of committing the money-laundering offence on April 25, 2014 at the Inland Revenue Board office’s Duta branch in Kuala Lumpur by allegedly not reporting his actual income for the year 2013 when he had allegedly failed to declare income received from Najib in the form of a RM1 million AmIslamic Bank cheque dated November 27, 2013 and which was deposited into Shahrir’s Public Islamic Bank account on November 28, 2013.
The offence under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 carries a penalty of a maximum fine of RM5 million or a maximum five-year jail term, or both.
Those present in court to show their support include Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Umno supreme council members Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Tan Sri Noh Omar, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman and Datuk Lokman Noor Adam.
Deputy public prosecutor Norzilati Izhani Zainal proposed a bail amount of RM500,000 with one guarantor and with the passport to be surrendered to the court, arguing that the amount was in line with the public interest and proportionate to the alleged offence which she said was serious in nature.
Shahrir’s defence lawyer Syahrul Syazwan Salehin asked for a lower bail amount, noting his client’s social standing as an MP for over five terms and former positions as minister and deputy minister.
He also highlighted that Shahrir is now a retiree that spends time with his family and remains active in helping the local community, especially in Johor Baru through welfare and religious work.
“The accused was never charged or convicted in any court throughout his political career and this is the first time he is brought to court to answer a criminal charge,” he said.
Syahrul Syazwan also noted that Shahrir’s continuous cooperation since investigations started in 2018 by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission meant he was unlikely to abscond, noting that the intention of a bail is to secure an accused’s attendance in court.
“And I understand that for the purpose of bail today, he is forced to use his savings and money from his pension to settle bail. And his [younger brother] is present to be the surety,” he said, having noted that certain accounts were frozen.
Datuk Shaharudin Ali, who was also representing Shahrir, asked for the bail amount to be reduced to a range of between RM50,000 to RM100,000.
Shaharudin had argued that the RM500,000 bail amount is punitive and that Shahrir will not abscond if the amount is reduced, given his high social standing as one of the longest-serving MPs and as someone who is “loved” by many in Johor Baru and the country.
Shahrir was formerly the Johor Baru MP.
The other lawyers who represented Shahrir today are Fahmi Abd Moin and Adnan Seman, while DPP Nik Haslinie Hashim also appeared for the prosecution.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi fixed bail at RM350,000 with one Malaysian surety and for Shahrir’s passport to be held by the court until the end of the case.
The court also fixed February 24 for the next mention of the case.
On July 3, 2018, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had questioned Shahrir over a RM1 million cheque that Najib had given him in November 2013 for Johor Baru Umno’s activities.
Shahrir and Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Ahmad Maslan are among the 80 individuals and entities that the MACC had in October 2019 issued compound notices on in a bid to recover a total RM420 million of funds believed to be misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The MACC had on October 7, 2019 said that some of the fines in the compound notices could be up to 2.5 times more than the amount received, and that the 80 individuals and entities were given two weeks to pay up with the law stating that those who fail to pay may be charged.
Shahrir and several others were earlier this month reported to have filed court challenges against their respective compound notices, with Shahrir reportedly seeking to challenge the compound notice where he was asked to pay a compound of RM2.5 million within 14 days of receiving the notice over the alleged RM1 million received.
The High Court has fixed this February 26 to hear Shahrir and Ahmad’s applications for leave for judicial review.
Earlier today, Ahmad was charged with money-laundering offences linked to a RM2 million cheque from Najib, with his case brought before Sessions Court judge Azman Ahmad in an adjacent courtroom.
Both Shahrir and Ahmad were arrested yesterday morning at MACC’s Putrajaya headquarters when presenting themselves for the final investigation process and were released on MACC bail, and were scheduled to be charged in the Kuala Lumpur court complex today.