Shahrir Samad freed of charge of failing to declare RM1 million to IRB
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — The High Court here today freed former Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Ab Samad of a charge of failing to declare to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) an income of RM1 million allegedly received from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Justice Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin acquitted and discharged Shahrir, 73, after deputy public prosecutor Rasyidah Murni Azmi told the court that the prosecution did not wish to continue with the case.
“The deputy public prosecutor confirms that the prosecution process will not be continued any time soon. In such a situation it is appropriate for the accused to be acquitted and discharged.”
“The court is using Section 254 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, apart from being bound by the Federal Court decision referred to by the defence. I order for the accused to be acquitted and discharged. The trial dates of Feb 27 and 28 this year have been vacated, and bail and passport will be returned to the accused,” said judge Muhammad Jamil.
Shahrir, a former Johor Bahru Member of Parliament, was charged with money laundering for not stating his real income in the Income Tax Return Form for Assessment Year 2013, which is a violation of Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967, by not declaring the RM1 million, which he received from the former prime minister in a cheque and banked into his account.
He was charged with committing the offence at IRB, Duta Branch, Government Office Complex, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim here on April 25, 2014.
The charge, under Section 4(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, provides for imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of RM5 million or both, upon conviction.
Najib, who was present in court today, was supposed to testify as the 23rd prosecution witness in the case.
Earlier, Rasyidah Murni said the prosecution was applying to use the provision under Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code to discontinue the prosecution process against Shahrir.
“In this connection, My Lordship, the prosecution is applying for the accused to be given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal,” she said.
The section states that the public prosecutor at any stage of the trial before judgment is given can choose not to continue with the case and to stop all proceedings with the consent of the court.
Asked by Justice Muhammad Jamil why the prosecution wanted to discontinue the case, Rasyidah Murni said: “The instruction received is not to proceed with the prosecution process, only that.”
Muhammad Jamil: Would the prosecution of the accused be continued at a date in the near future?
Rasyidah Murni: No, My Lord.
Shahrir’s lawyer Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin asked the court to acquit and discharge his client on grounds that evidence given by a prosecution witness favoured the accused.
Another lawyer, Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad, said the charge against Shahrir was made hastily on the decision of then Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas.
“This case is in the final stage (prosecution) and the investigating officer had been called and admitted that there was not enough evidence to charge Tan Sri Shahrir. As such, we are applying to the court to rule that Tan Sri Shahrir be acquitted and discharged,” he said.
Lawyer Datuk Syed Faisal Al-Edros Syed Abdullah Al-Edros said the prosecution’s application for Shahrir to be given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal would not give his client total freedom.
“Tan Sri Shahrir has been facing the court case since 2020, and in fact his family has been shamed by the charge made against him. If my client is given only a discharge without an acquittal, he would be left wondering whether he would be taken to court again in future,” he said.
In his arguments, Syed Faisal Al-Edros referred to the decision of the latest case between Vigny Alfred Raj and the public prosecutor in 2022 in the Federal Court which stated that a person accused of committing a crime was entitled to due process and equitable legal protection.
“If there is any ambiguity with regard to Section 254 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, it should be resolved by favouring the freedom of a subject.”
“So when the Attorney-General or prosecuting officer has decided not to continue with the prosecution process, the accused should be acquitted and discharged,” he said.
Rasyidah Murni then said the prosecution was leaving it to the court to decide.
On Dec 23 last year, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Nurzahidah Yacop, 35, when testifying at the trial, said Thomas had directed MACC to charge Shahrir although the investigation papers were incomplete.
The trial began on July 26 last year and 22 prosecution witnesses had given their evidence.
Shahrir, when met by reporters later, said both he and UMNO had been absolved by the decision of the prosecution to discontinue the case.
“By right I should be happy with this acquittal but I am sad because this case had given people the impression that I was a corrupt MP and UMNO leader and lacked integrity.”
“In fact, I was doing my work honestly and I had told the authorities why I took the money and why I asked for help from Datuk Seri Najib. I did all those things while discharging my duties as an MP to help poor people, including by building new houses,” he added.