Skinning Muhammad Shafee bin Muhammad Abdullah appears to be easier than initially thought. Yes, remember when we said there are many ways to skin a cat? Well, this fat cat called Shafee, supposedly Malaysia’s top lawyer and a man of many talents – being defence counsel and prosecutor at the same time – has finally come home to roost.
Mr. Shafee has been arrested under Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA) and is slapped with two charges of money laundering today. Ironically, he is the senior lawyer representing ex-prime minister Najib Razak – also hit with the same charges of money laundering under AMLA, in addition to criminal breach of trust (CBT).
Scandal-plagued Najib Razak has been charged with money laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust stemming from RM42 million transferred to his accounts from a former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn. Bhd. Mr. Najib, when asked about his confidence, pointed to his defence counsel Shafee Abdullah and answered with a smile – “I have a hotshot lawyer”.
That was about two months ago in July. Now, his hotshot lawyer is in hot soup. It’s Shafee’s turn in needing a bigger hotshot lawyer to save him from being thrown into prison – for money laundering and tax evasion. An official from the Attorney-General’s Chambers provided Anwar with an affidavit last week showing Najib paid Shafee RM9.5 million.
Apparently, on 11th September 2013, Najib paid Shafee RM4,300,000 from his AmBank account no “2112022011906” and again on 17th February 2014 the lawyer received RM5,200,000 from the same account. That same account has been identified as having been funded by money stolen by Mr. Najib from the 1MDB subsidiary SRC International.
When exposed initially, Mr. Shafee, an Indian convert, denied the allegations about him taking RM9.5 million, calling it “total nonsense.” He said – “I was never paid RM9.5 million to prosecute Anwar’s sodomy case.” At that time, the arrogant lawyer still walks around like a hotshot lawyer as Najib was the powerful prime minister. The world is upside down and his denial is now being used against him.
Now, do you understand why Siti Rahayu Mohd Mumazaini, the special officer of the AG’s Chambers, revealed last week the information that two cheques from Najib were deposited into Shafee’s CIMB Bank account on Sept 13, 2013 and Feb 17, 2014? It is part of the Attorney General Tommy Thomas plan – systematically taking down the crooks, one after another.
Four days ago (Sept 9), former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad mocked the AG Tommy Thomas for withdrawing from being the chief prosecutor for Najib’s case. Senior lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah was appointed to lead the prosecution team in the criminal trial of Najib Razak instead. Hence, Abdul Hamid accused AG Tommy of chickening out because he had no experience in prosecution.
Abdul Hamid Mohamad, who famously wrote his racist judgement in a case where a bank had sued two business partners – a Malay and an India – and accepted a claim by a Malay defendant (but not the Indian) because “as a Muslim he would not tell lies”, obviously had underestimated the new Attorney General Chambers.
It was by design that AG Tommy decided to appoint Sulaiman Abdullah to take charge of Najib Razak’s case. Why? Can you imagine how the pro-Najib and pro-UMNO cybertroopers, propagandists and bloggers will spin and twist the story when Najib is found guilty eventually? The headlines would read “Christian Tommy sends Malay-Muslim Najib to jail!!”
Yes, after AG Tommy Thomas cleared the sea for the return of RM1 billion superyacht Equanimity (bought with stolen money by Jho Low), the opposition comprising UMNO and PAS have been increasingly desperate to stir up racial and religion sentiments among the Malays that the Muslims and Malay Rulers have lost power to the “Chinese, Christians and Communists”.
Now that Shafee Abdullah has admitted that he did received the RM9.5 million after all, it’s only natural for the prosecutor, reportedly former judge Gopal Sri Ram, to move in for the kill. Sure, the hotshot lawyer can cook up all the crappy stories that the payments were for legal services done for UMNO and the previous corrupted Barisan Nasional coalition government.
Still, the RM9.5 million was part of stolen money from the 1MDB subsidiary SRC International. You just can’t walk away scot free after receiving such a huge amount of money plundered from the national coffers, certainly not when you had deliberately lied of now having received it in the first place. But accepting dirty money is just the dessert.
As we had written, Al-Capone, American most notorious gangster who practically controlled Chicago like his private business, was brought down using a simple tool called “tax evasion”. He wasn’t and couldn’t be charged for drug trafficking, assault, intimidation or even murder – the usual stuffs he did as if they were his daily breakfast. Instead, he was charged for not paying taxes.
Even if Shafee could get away with money laundering charges, he would end up like the American biggest crook Al-Capone. Unless the lawyer was a time traveller who knew about the downfall of Najib Razak on May 9th, he didn’t see it coming. Hence, he had made false declarations to the IRD (Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia), as the news flashes today confirming his tax evasion.
But how could he declare honestly his RM9.5 million when he had denied such payments ever existed in the first place. He most likely had used some “creative accounting” to hide the actual amount of his RM9.5 million to cover-up his ill-gotten money. It’s worth to note that the payments happened between 2013 and 2014.
It was the peak of Najib administration where everybody aligned to the prime minister felt incredibly invincible and untouchable after the opposition had failed (again) to take over the federal government. Therefore, the arrogant Shafee Abdullah, like everybody in the swamp, felt the same and never bothered to file his income tax return accordingly for the payments.
If found guilty under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA), Shafee will face a maximum jail term of five years, a fine of up to RM5 million or both. For two counts of violating the Income Tax Act 1967 of making false statements, he can be jailed up to 15 years and fined not less than five times the value of the sum involved or RM5 million, whichever is higher.
He has claimed that the RM9.5 million was payment for the 46 election petitions he had handled for the previous Barisan Nasional government from 2004 to 2006. But he only got the two tranches in 2013 and 2014. Good luck proving that it wasn’t an afterthought that he mentioned it was payments for services tendered about 10 years ago, of which he didn’t declare to the IRB.
Tommy Thomas doesn’t need to lead every single prosecution. As the attorney general, he’s the manager of the chambers. His job is to manage, not to do firefighting, and certainly not when his plate is full with tons of cases against Barisan Nasional crooks. Shafee Abdullah should realize that empty vessels make the most noise. AG Tommy keeps a low profile, and all the crooks should be afraid – be very afraid!
Source : Finance Twitter