Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Shafee seeks to remove half of former tax officer’s witness statement

His legal team claims that 33 out of 51 paragraphs contain prejudicial elements.

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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 (LHDN) officer, contending that it is a form of opinion and conclusion on the lawyer’s RM9.5 million money laundering case.

Shafee’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh informed the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today that the defence had found that 33 out of 51 paragraphs of the witness statement of Syed Nasrul Fahmi Syed Mohamad should be expunged due to allegedly 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,” Harvinderjit said before judge 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, 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, 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 Afzainizam Abdul Aziz said the issues raised by the defence were 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,” Afzainizam said.

After hearing arguments from both parties, judge Jamil suggested that the witness read out his statement first in the next session so that the defence can point out in court the paragraphs they wish to expunge.

The trial continues on Dec 8.

On Sept 13, 2018, Shafee pleaded not guilty to two charges of receiving RM9.5 million in proceeds from unlawful activities through two cheques issued by former prime minister Najib Razak, deposited into his CIMB Bank 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 Dec 31, 2013 and Dec 31, 2014.

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