Lawyer Shafee seeks to expunge half of ex-tax officer’s witness statement

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex May 21, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex May 21, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s legal team has raised an objection against more than half of the written witness statement of a former Inland Revenue Board (IRB) officer, contending that it was a form of opinion and conclusion on the lawyer’s RM9.5 million money laundering case.

Muhammad Shafee’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh informed the High Court here today the defence found that 33 out of 51 paragraphs of the witness statement of Syed Nasrul Fahmi Syed Mohamad should be expunged due to alleged prejudicial elements.

“This witness statement is 13 pages long and contains 51 paragraphs. I am seeking to strike out 33 paragraphs of the witness statement because he is not a legal expert to give such testimony,” said Harvinderjit before Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin.

He made the objection before Syed Nasrul Fahmi, who is the seventh prosecution witness, took the witness stand.

During the proceedings, Harvinderjit read out certain paragraphs and insisted that Syed Nasrul Fahmi’s witness statement seemed to show that the witness had arrived at a finding of guilt against his client (Muhammad Shafee), something only a proper judge is in a position to do.

 “It is strange when one reads the witness statement. The witness’ qualification is in accountancy and not law, and yet he gives an opinion about the interpretation of the provisions of the Income Tax Act. That is a legal opinion and the only person who can give a legal opinion is Yang Arif,” said the lawyer.

Deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Afzainizam Abdul Aziz said the issues raised by the defence are very serious.

“If the court rules not in our favour, then it means we cannot use the witness statement altogether. If expunged, it would mess up the evidence to be tendered by the prosecution. We are opposing the objection and would like to deal with it first on a later date,” said the DPP.

After hearing arguments from both parties, judge Muhammad Jamil suggested that the witness read out his statement first in the next session so that the defence could point out in court the paragraphs they wish to expunge. The trial continues on December 8.

On September 13, 2018, Muhammad Shafee pleaded not guilty to two charges of receiving RM9.5 million which was proceeds from unlawful activities through two cheques issued by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak which were deposited into his CIMB Bank Berhad account.

He was also charged with two counts of engaging in transactions resulting from illegal activities, namely submitting incorrect tax returns, which is in violation of paragraph 113 (1) (a) of the Income Tax Act 1967 for the financial years ending December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2014. — Bernama

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