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KUALA LUMPUR: Two Umno leaders were charged at the Sessions Court today with money laundering after failing to declare to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), monies purportedly received from the party’s former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, seven years ago.

Former deputy finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan and former Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Ab Samad pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them in two separate Sessions courts.

The duo who looked jovial when they arrived at the courts complex, here, about 8.10am and were greeted by Umno leaders and supporters.

The two party leaders arrived separately and were accompanied by several Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) officers before they were ushered into the different courtrooms.

Several Umno top brass including its president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was also present during the legal proceedings to provide moral support.

Others present were party secretary general Tan Sri Annuar Musa, supreme council members Tan Sri Noh Omar, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, and Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

Facing charges before Sessions Court judge Azman Ahmad, Ahmad Maslan, 54, faces two counts.

On the first count, the Pontian member of parliament was accused of getting himself involved in money laundering by not declaring to the IRB the RM2 million he received from Najib via a cheque dated Nov 27, 2013, in his tax filing for the year.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Duta branch of the IRB located at the Government Complex in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim, here, on April 30, 2014.

He also faces another charge of giving false statement to the MACC when his statement was recorded under Section 32 of Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA) by the agency’s investigating officer Mohd Zairi Zainal.

According to the charge sheet, among Ahmad’s statements which was allegedly false was denying that he had received any money from Najib.

He allegedly committed the offence at a media conference room at the Parliament building in Jalan Parliament, here. Between 2.45pm and 3.30pm on July 4, last year.

Deputy public prosecutor Norzilati Izhani Zainal offered RM1 million bail to Ahmad saying that the charges faced by the accused were serious.

In pleading for minimum bail, Ahmad’s counsel Hamadi Mohd Noh said his client who is a serving MP has no risk of absconding.

“He had also been cooperating throughout MACC’s investigations and the fact that he had appeared in court today shows that he is a law abiding citizen,” the lawyer said.

The court then allowed RM500,000 bail with one surety to the accused and ordered for the accused to surrender his passport to the court.

His case will come up for mention on Feb 21.

Meanwhile, before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi, Shahrir who is Johor Baru Umno division chief was charged with failing to declare RM1 million he purportedly received from Najib on Nov 28, 2013.

Norzilati asked for the court to impose RM500,000 bail with one surety to the accused saying that the court should consider the severity of the offence and public interest.

However, counsel Syahrul Syazwan Salehin who represented Shahrir pleaded for minimum bail stating that his client has a low risk to absconding.

“He has withdrawn all of his retirement monies of about RM100,000 for his bail.

“My client is also a former politician and public figure,” he said.

The court then set RM350,000 bail with one surety and asked the accused to surrender his passport to the court.

His case will come up for mention on Feb 24.

The Johor Umno leaders charge for money laundering was framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the AMLATFAPUAA carries fine of not more than RM5 million and maximum five years imprisonment.

On Jun 21 last year, the duo were among 41 people and entities named by the graft buster in their civil forfeiture suit to recover RM270 million allegedly received from 1 Malaysia Develeopment Berhad which has been engulfed in a financial scandal.

Umno President Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (centre) shares a light moment with Johor Baru Umno division chief Tan Sri Shahrir Abd Samad (right) and Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan at Kuala Lumpur Court Complex. -NSTP/Asyraf Hamzah
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