Shafee: Bar Council should monitor Najib’s lawyer’s money-laundering case too

25-Feb-2019 Intellasia | Malay Mail | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Bar Council should have sent representatives to observe the money-laundering case against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarisam Harun, said lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

During the court mention for Najib’s case involving RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds today, the former prime minister’s lawyer said he did not object to the presence of a lawyer from the Bar Council as an observer to hold a watching brief.

“I have no objection except to tell the Bar Council representative, they have to be consistent.

“They have to send their representatives to far more important cases when lawyers are charged for using client account for money-laundering,” he said before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Lawyer Sunil Lopez attended two separate court proceedings today involving Najib’s cases at the Criminal High Court to hold a watching brief on behalf of the Bar Council.

The first proceeding was on the former 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) subsidiary’s RM42 million case, which was fixed for case management on March 13.

The second case was a hearing on Najib’s application to disqualify Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as lead prosecutor in Najib’s 1MDB cases, with the hearing to resume on February 28.

Met later, Shafee confirmed that he had urged the Bar Council in court today to hold a watching brief in Hafarisam’s case.

“The Bar Council cannot pick and choose like cherry-picking. There was a very important case where a lawyer was charged yesterday, purely by being a lawyer,” Shafee told Malay Mail.

Hafarisam, who is also Umno’s legal adviser, was yesterday charged with money-laundering for allegedly putting a total of RM15 million of illegal funds via three cheques from his former client Najib into his law firm’s client account.

Shafee said Hafarisam had received instructions from his client to put RM15 million in his law firm’s client account pending instructions, adding that Hafarisam had then transferred out over RM14 million from the client account after receiving instructions.

“If you charge lawyers like that, every lawyer will be charged. Many lawyers will be charged so I said Bar Council should come and do a watching brief because it is a constitutional case,” he said.

Shafee said Hafarisam’s case was similar to a case in the US and Canada, regarding a lawyer who acted for clients without knowledge of the source of their clients’ money.

“This similar situation is a constitutional case in the US and Canada where a lawyer can be charged when he is acting under client’s instructions without knowing the money came from what source.

“And he is not obliged to find out, he is not a bank. The bank you are obliged, but a lawyer need not have to be put under obligation to find out,” he said, adding that the court found that it was not an offence.

Hafarisam pleaded not guilty to two charges under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

The law provides for a maximum 15-year jail term, and a fine of RM5 million or not less than five times the sum of the proceeds of unlawful activity, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Hafarisam had represented Najib in multiple court cases, when the latter was prime minister and Umno president and even after he no longer held the two positions.

Najib is facing 42 charges with many linked to the 1MDB scandal, ranging from money-laundering to criminal breach of trust and also power abuse under an anti-corruption law.


Category: Malaysia

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