Thursday, June 24, 2021

Prosecution aims to prove Zahid received millions in bribes over foreign visa system

The prosecution expects to call at least 20 witnesses in the former deputy prime minister's trial for 40 corruption charges.

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The prosecution in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial for 40 corruption charges in connection with the foreign visa system (VLN) will seek to prove that the former deputy prime minister had received bribes of millions of ringgit in wage and incentives to maintain and extend the contract of Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) as the operator of the system.

Deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran said the prosecution would present evidence that Zahid, 68, during his four years as home minister, had taken advantage of his position to amass wealth.

“The accused has received bribes involving cash in various currencies, namely S$14.71 million, RM3.125 million, US$15,000 and €5,000. The accused received these monies from UKSB.

“UKSB is a company appointed by the government as a contractor to carry out supply and service works for the home ministry. The appointment of UKSB was made in accordance with several agreements signed between the government of Malaysia and UKSB,” he said in his opening speech on the first day of the trial before High Court judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa today.

Raja Rozela said the prosecution would also submit oral evidence and documents that would prove Zahid was involved in and had knowledge of UKSB’s appointment as contractor.

“Yang Arif will also hear the testimony of several witnesses who will detail the facts and circumstances of when and how the bribe money was received by the accused.

“At the end of the prosecution case, Yang Arif will be able to see that there is a close connection between the fact of UKSB’s appointment as the contractor and the receipt of cash by the accused.

“All the evidence that will be submitted will prove that the accused committed the offence as stated in the charge,” he added.

He said the prosecution expected to call at least 20 witnesses, with two or three to be called today.

Raja Rozela is assisted by deputy public prosecutors Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Gan Peng Kun and Lim Wai Keong, while Zahid is represented by lawyers Ahmad Zaidi Zainal and Hamidi Mohd Noh.

Zahid was charged with 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million from UKSB as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant, then as home minister, to extend the contract of the company as the operator of a one-stop centre service in China and the VLN system, as well as to maintain the contract to supply the VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the home ministry.

He allegedly committed the offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and in Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.

The charges framed under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 are punishable under Section 24(1) of the same act, which provides a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine of not less than five times of the value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

On seven other charges, Zahid was charged, in his capacity as home minister at the time, with accepting S$1,150,000, RM3,000,000, €15,000 and US$15,000 without consideration from the same company which he knew had connection with his function.

He was charged with committing the offences at a house in Country Heights, between June 2015 and October 2017.

The charges were framed under Section 165 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail term of two years, a fine or both upon conviction.

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