Sunday, October 24, 2021

Najib asked Zahid to continue UKSB’s contract for foreign visa system, court told

Witness says the request was made in minutes by the former PM to Zahid.

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The High Court was told today that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was requested twice by Najib Razak to continue the contract of Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) as the sole operator of the foreign visa (VLN) system to Malaysia in China.

Former principal assistant secretary at the Immigration Affairs Division of the home ministry, Azman Azra Abdul Rahman @ Md Salleh, said the request was based on minutes made by the former prime minister in two letters, dated May 23, 2013 and Jan 20, 2014, sent to Zahid.

He said the letters and minutes received by Zahid, who was then home minister, were from UKSB to Najib to request the Pekan MP’s consideration to retain the company as the sole operator of the visa management to Malaysia in China.

“On May 23, 2013, the prime minister sent a minute (in writing) to Zahid that UKSB’s application needed to be approved.

“The minute, dated Jan 20, 2014, stated: ‘YB Datuk Sri Zahid, please assist in this matter. This contract should be continued’,” he said when reading out his witness statement during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Lim Wai Keong on the second day of trial of Zahid’s corruption case involving millions of ringgit regarding the VLN contract.

Azman Azra, who is the second prosecution witness, said that on Feb 28, 2014, an agreement was signed between UKSB and the government to supply the VLN system.

“The agreement was for six years from Nov 1, 2013 to Oct 31, 2019. Under the agreement, UKSB was required to develop, integrate and maintain the VLN system at its own cost without charging any cost to the government.

“The government also allowed UKSB to collect charges at a rate that did not exceed the ceiling rate of RM105 for every application for a MalaysianvVisa,” he said.

When cross-examined by lawyer Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, representing Zahid, the witness said the minutes sent by Najib to Zahid were directives.

During re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin of the first prosecution witness, assistant registrar of companies and businesses of the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), Muhamad Akmaludin Abdullah, 38, the court was told that the information recorded on SSM’s certificate did not necessarily reflect the actual financial position of UKSB.

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 Act 2009 can be punished under Section 24(1) of the same act, which provides for 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, 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.

The hearing before judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa continues on Thursday.

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