Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, apologised to the Kuala Lumpur High Court over a media statement he made recently on the former premier’s RM2.3 billion 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption case.
However, the veteran lawyer insisted that the media statement was accurate and not an exaggeration.
“My Lord, I profusely apologise to the court if there was misconstrue of the media statement. The statement was accurate and with no exaggeration.
“The press statement merely said this ‘the prosecution didn’t provide us with the documents in this case, but we dug out and found these documents’. That was how we said the prosecution failed to disclose,” said the lawyer on Wednesday (Oct 5).
Muhammad Shafee said the statement was made in response to queries by media members about the money that was deposited into Najib’s accounts.
“The reporters have been asking, is it true that the two transactions came from Saudi Arabia,” he said.
At this juncture, senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram responded, saying that his only complaint was that Muhammad Shafee could have raised the matter in court.
“My learned friend (Muhammad Shafee) could raise this before your Lordship. Does he (Muhammad Shafee) expect us to go to the media and say Tan Sri Shafee is wrong?
“I’m perfectly happy if he makes the complaint before your Lordship. Any complaints about the way we (prosecution) conduct the case can bring before your lordship. Please don’t discuss with the media, just liaise with us,” said the former Federal Court judge.
After hearing arguments by both parties, High Court Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah said “this will be the end of the matter as far as the media statement is concerned… We can let matters rest as they are”.
On Tuesday (Oct 4), Sri Ram warned Muhammad Shafee from conducting a trial in the media of the case.
It was in response to a media statement by Muhammad Shafee on Monday (Oct 3) which highlighted the inflow of funds into Najib’s account in February and June 2011 amounting to about RM60.6mil (about US$20mil) from Saudi royalty, Prince Faisal Turki Al Saud.
The defence claimed that the fund was part of a gift to Najib from the former governor of Madinah Province, Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al Saud.
Muhammad Shafee also said the prosecution had only highlighted the two transfer transactions, but did not highlight five other transfers into Najib’s account between Aug 2011 and Aug 2012 which were allegedly from Prince Turki and the Ministry of Finance Riyadh amounting to about US$180mil.
Muhammad Shafee had also included letters from the former governor that were addressed to Najib, stating different sums of donations made to the former premier.
The trial then proceeded with 39th prosecution witness, former AmBank non-executive director Cheah Tek Kuang, taking the witness stand to be cross-examined by Muhammad Shafee.
Najib, 69, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3bil belonging to 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.