KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — The RM9.5 million paid by Datuk Seri Najib Razak was not for the task of being lead prosecutor in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II appeals, but for unpaid work for Barisan Nasional in election petition cases, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah clarified today.
Shafee asserted that he had even wanted to provide his services as prosecutor in Anwar’s cases for free, but that an amount of RM1,000 was eventually fixed as the consideration amount in his July 19, 2013 contract for the appointment.
Shafee said the written contract remains confidential but asserted that both the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria were both “fully aware” of this.
He added that Najib as the PM then was also “fully aware” of the written agreement for him to undertake the assignment virtually for free.
“For purposes of record, I have never taken a single cent from the government of Malaysia or anybody else in relation to my undertaking of the prosecution of the appeals. I must stress that even the RM1,000 was never claimed by me to date,” he said in a six-page statement today.
As for the RM9.5 million payment from Najib, Shafee said he had in a meeting around September 2013 told the then prime minister and Barisan Nasional chairman and also Umno president that he would be happy if Najib could settle payment of RM11 million owed to Shafee for legal work done for 46 election petition files in 2004 and in 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 paper work later.
“I agreed to this arrangement. Here I must stress that I was made to understand that Najib was made responsible for handing the party’s funds as this was a normal party practice. I had at that time absolutely no knowledge of the source of the payments to me by Najib,” he added.
Shafee said he had last year provided documents and explained to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) about the RM9.5 million payment when it became an issue due to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy, and that he had recently explained the matter again to the MACC and will be showing the anti-graft commission documents again next week.
“Dato’ Sri Najib would be able to confirm the reason for the RM9.5 Million being paid to me,” he said later in the statement.
In the same statement, Shafee explained that he was never a member of any political party, but had acted as a lawyer for BN and Umno since the 1990s in lawsuits or by providing his legal opinions,and also through the terms of three prime ministers from BN ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib.
Shafee said that he had accumulated many uncollected bills over the years for his legal work from Dr Mahathir’s days as the prime minister, and that he had also provided legal services to the former BN government and the respective prime ministers by giving urgent legal opinions and documentations.
“The numerous files that have been opened with respect to all these works have not received any fees for a long time as Umno had always promised me and my firm that the payment was forthcoming,” he said, adding that Umno and BN had either paid small or no disbursements for some of this work.
It was during the meeting around September 2013 with Najib in the Prime Minister’s Office that Shafee raised the matter of payment for his services so far for Umno and BN, as Shafee said 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.
“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,” Shafee said, adding that he then asked for payment for the RM11 million worth of work that resulted in the RM9.5 million sum being paid by Najib.
Shafee’s statement today was made after a renewed controversy on the reason for his RM9.5 million payment from Najib in the past, with Anwar questioning the payment allegedly made during the timeframe when Shafee was acting as the lead prosecutor in the Sodomy II appeals.