Bar Council Urged to Take Action Against Shafee over RM9.5M Payment

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Malaysians slam Shafee for trying to rekindle Mahathir-Anwar feud.

Shafee’s claims:

  • Harassment, victimisation to discourage his defence of Najib
  • RM9.5 million for settling BN’s legal fees, not Anwar prosecution
  • Dr Mahathir wanted him to prosecute Anwar’s Sodomy II appeals

The Bar Council has been urged to take action against lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for allegedly receiving RM9.5 million from former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

“We urge the Bar Council to uphold the rule of law and to invoke the provisions stipulated in the Legal Profession Act 1976 and to take necessary action against Shafee inter alia, by lodging a complaint with the disciplinary board,” Perak DAP legal bureau chief Leong Cheok Keng said in a statement today.

Shafee purportedly received the payment for his services as special prosecutor in PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim’s appeals against his Sodomy II conviction in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

According to Leong, the Perak DAP legal bureau believes that Anwar may have been denied a fair trial as Shafee had not acted independently in the appeal, but for “financial or pecuniary interest.”

Zuraneeza Zulkifli

“An advocate and solicitor is duty bound, even when, or more so when, acting as a senior deputy public prosecutor to uphold the law, the dignity and the high standing of the profession at all times, and shall not practise any deception on the court and shall not accept a brief if his professional conduct is likely to be impugned,” he said.

This is all laid out by the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978, he added.

As such, he said he believes Shafee may have committed misconduct in his professional capacity, which amounts to grave impropriety and is subject to disciplinary actions by the Advocates & Solicitors Disciplinary Board.

On Sept 6, it was reported that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) submitted “new information” to the Court of Appeal that showed Najib paid RM9.5 million to Shafee between 2013 and 2014.

The evidence was submitted by a special task officer to the attorney-general in an affidavit, which included transaction details of Najib’s and Shafee’s bank accounts.

It also included a copy of two cheques from Najib dated Sept 11, 2013, and Feb 14, 2014, to Shafee for RM4.3 million and RM5.2 million respectively.

However, Shafee has since responded to this, admitting that he received the RM9.5 million but denied it was his fees as the special prosecutor for Anwar’s appeals.

He said everyone involved in his appointment was aware his fees was RM1,000.

“I must stress that even the RM1,000 was never claimed by me to date,” he said.

He also said that the RM9.5 million was merely part of fees owed to him for legal services rendered to Umno and BN since the 1990s during the terms of the previous prime ministers from Dr Mahathir to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib.

He added that he had not received any fees from Umno and BN for a long time.

“In some of these cases, some small disbursements were paid by Umno and Barisan and in some others, no disbursements were paid at all,” he said.

In September 2013, Dr Muhammad Shafee said he met with Najib at the prime minister’s office over various matters, including money owed for his legal work as he then needed money to buy a property from a friend who desperately needed to dispose of that property to buy a new one for the latter’s family.

“I told him the total fees would be in the region of not less than RM20 million but I was not asking for all that.

“Dato’ Sri Najib learned for the first time that I have not been paid by Umno for all these years since the time of Tun Mahathir and he inquired from me what would be the fees that had been accumulated over the years since early 1990’s.

“I told him the total fees would be in the region of not less than RM20 Million but I was not asking for all that.

“I told him that I would be happy if he could settle about RM11 million worth of legal work in 46 election petition files, the subject matter of the years in 2004 and 2006.

“Najib, however, agreed to pay RM9.5 million as complete settlement of the legal fees of the 46 election petition matters but he had asked me to rationalise the paperwork later and I agreed to this agreement,” Shafee said.

He revealed that he had explained to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on why he was paid RM9.5 million by Najib after his related bank account was frozen.

“I had brought with me documents showing the files that I have billed and my banking documents to reflect the receipt of the RM9.5 Million and their disbursements,” he said in a six-page press statement today.

Shafee today claimed that he was being “harassed” over the RM9.5 million for his work as a lawyer for BN, also voicing fears that he was allegedly being victimised due to his role as Najib’s defence lawyer in the latter’s criminal trial.

“I am a regular advocate and solicitor who works for fees. Why am I being scrutinised when I collect fees for my Umno/BN work?

“If you allow lawyers to be harassed like this under purported money laundering investigations etc, the future of the legal profession is impeded,” the statement said.

He then sought to draw a comparison with his situation with several private lawyers now either working for the government or appointed to lead prosecutors for Najib’s trial and the 1MDB matter.

“As pointed out by the Prime Minister Tun Mahathir recently who when asked by journalists whether Tommy Thomas was a crony of PH leaders he retorted ‘lawyers take cases that bring in their income’.

“Am I any different to the AG Tommy when he was engaged to represent Anwar and Lim Guan Eng, or for that matter Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, who was Anwar’s lawyer in Sodomy I and defamation cases (now a DPP on fiat against Najib), or Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who used to represent Anwar in the Sodomy II appeal (and now a DPP in the Attorney General’s chambers)?” he asked.

“These recent developments, I fear, is a setting to victimise and demonise me and to put unfair pressure on the Attorney General’s Office to take action against me.

“I fear that the Attorney General’s office is being exploited to victimise me, perhaps to discourage me in the defence of Najib in his case,” he claimed.

Shafee is currently the lead defence counsel for Najib, who will be facing trial next year for seven charges of criminal breach of trust, power abuse and money-laundering offences over an RM42 million sum linked to 1MDB’s former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Shafee said he was surprised and appalled at the AGC officer’s disclosure in the court document of matters related to the RM9.5 million payment, which Shafee said was still under the MACC’s active investigation, also criticising the officer’s response as allegedly being incorrect.

Shafee said he had previously refrained from explaining the RM9.5 million issue since it was under probe, but said he was now forced to publicly explain it along with the full details as the court document had been released in the public domain by Anwar and others.

Shafee said this was despite the affidavit or sworn statement having just been affirmed on September 5 and yet to become a public document by being read in court.

“I am reserving my rights to take the necessary steps against this unprecedented breach of confidentiality by a serving DPP,” he said.

Shafee also alleged that it was Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had pushed for him to be appointed special prosecutor in Anwar’s trial.

“Datuk Seri Najib (Tun Razak) was not keen with the idea of appointing me as the prosecutor by way of fiat (authorisation) for these appeals because he did not want to offend the then attorney general Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

Azneal Ishak

“In fact, he was most reluctant. However, it was Dr Mahathir who insisted that I be appointed as the special prosecutor in Anwar’s appeals,” he said.

He alleged that Dr Mahathir did not have confidence in the Attorney General’s Chambers to competently manage the appeal.

“This is probably due to the fact that the Attorney General’s Chambers had lost the Sodomy II case in the High Court. Further, they had lost earlier in the Federal Court the Sodomy I case,” Shafee said.

In 2010, Anwar was charged and tried with sodomy for the second time, this time involving his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur cleared Anwar of the charge, but the prosecution appealed, this time with Shafee being put in charge as special prosecutor.

The Court of Appeal then overturned Anwar’s acquittal in 2014, which was reaffirmed by the Federal Court in February 2015.

In 2017, Anwar filed two suits – the first was to quash his sodomy conviction on grounds the court did not come to a just decision as Dr Muhammad Shafee was said to have received money from Najib.

The other suit was to compel Dr Muhammad Shafee and Najib to reveal bank account transactions between August 2013 and March 2014, following allegations that RM9.5mil had been transferred to Dr Muhammad Shafee from Najib’s private account.

He had argued at the Kuala Lumpur High Court that he was denied a fair trial because his prosecutor had received payment from Najib. The appellate court is set to hear his appeal on Sept 14.

Anwar received a royal pardon for the conviction in May.

Meanwhile, Malaysians did not take too kindly to Shafee’s allegation today that it was Dr Mahathir who was the prime mover in recruiting him to lead the prosecution against Anwar in the Sodomy II case.

Many took to social media to accuse the Umno lawyer of attempting to restart a feud between Dr Mahathir and Anwar.

Facebook user Jhon Tan questioned why it took Shafee so long to come out with his tale.

“Took this dishonest person a few years to come out with this excuse,” said Tan.

Dayang Fazrina Abang Yasir warned: “That’s right Shafee, keep telling yourself that. Your words only coming back blasting at you. You see Karma keeps receipts.”

Iskandar Sham on Facebook said it had taken Shafee these many years to plot how to rekindle the old feud between the two leaders after they had reconciled.

“Whatever comes out from this fellow’s mouth is just the same as the ones that came out of Najib’s…lies. If it was true he would have revealed this while Umno was still in power, not until the payment was revealed.

Another Facebook user Thiruchelvam Thirunavukarasu alleged Umno was Shafee to stir up hatred between Dr Mahathir and Anwar.

“Umno will not rest until they drive a wedge between Dr M and Anwar. That’s their strategy to topple the PH government before GE15. I just hope the PH leaders can see through this (game),” he said.

Thomas Daniel and a few others, meanwhile, said that there was no need for Shafee to give his side of the story as the record already showed where the money had come from.

Earlier report: Sept 7, Damning Affidavit Confirms Najib Paid Shafee RM9.5M