Monday, May 23, 2022

Zahid immune from prosecution, court told in graft case

His lawyer says Zahid Hamidi has been 'unnecessarily and over-prosecuted'.

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The High Court was told today that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is immune from prosecution as all the information about transactions relating to his family-run Yayasan Akalbudi charity foundation was disclosed by the former deputy prime minister.

Counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who is representing Zahid, said his client was claiming immunity from prosecution under Section 30(7) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act.

“The accused (Zahid) had on July 2, 2018, and July 3, 2018, made two statements pursuant to Section 30(3)(b) of the MACC Act. By these two statements, the accused had disclosed information and therefore under Section 30 (7) of the MACC Act, he is clothed with immunity from prosecution.

“These two statements were admitted through SP89 (89th prosecution witness Fairul Rafiq Hamirudin), the first investigation officer called by the prosecution. He confirmed under cross-examination that he had access and custody of the above statements. He also confirmed that he had vetted the statements.

“SP89 further confirmed the following, that both the statements were given pursuant to order under Section 30 (1)(a) of the MACC Act and that the accused was not prosecuted for an offence under Section 27 of the MACC Act in respect of both statements for giving information that is untrue,” he said in his submissions at the end of the prosecution’s case involving Zahid before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Hisyam said based on the information given in one of the two statements, his client was immune from 46 out of the 47 charges and, under the circumstances, could not be prosecuted.

“Thus, applying Sub-section 30(7) to the facts of this case, it is respectfully submitted that the accused is therefore immune and cannot be prosecuted for 46 out of the 47 offences. These 46 offences are in respect of all 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges, seven out of the eight corruption charges and for all 27 money laundering charges,” he said.

On the outset, Hisyam said the charges against his client were instituted by former attorney-general (AG) Tommy Thomas.

Quoting a passage from the former AG in his recent book entitled “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”, the lawyer said Thomas had explained that he only charged Zahid after being satisfied of having a realistic chance of securing a conviction based on overwhelming evidence against the accused.

However, Hisyam said having heard, read and seen the evidence by the prosecution, despite the then-AG’s confidence in securing a conviction, the reality was that the charges were framed on thin ice.

Hisyam further submitted that his client had been unnecessarily and over-prosecuted.

The lawyer said the charge sheet had accused Zahid of committing CBT when he (Zahid) transferred RM17.9 million in funds from the charity to a trust account under the name of Lewis & Co.

“It is obviously wrong in law to say that there is CBT when Yayasan Akalbudi retains ownership of the said monies when the said monies reached the hands of Lewis & Co’s client account. A diligent student of criminal law will tell us that there is no CBT as Yayasan Akalbudi still retains ownership when the funds reached the clients’ account of Lewis & Co. With respect, a strong inference can be made is that there is (an) oblique motive in the filing of these charges.

“The accused has been unnecessarily charged not based on law or evidence. Again, the right thing to do is for the prosecution to withdraw the CBT charge when there is obviously no CBT… My client has been unnecessarily charged not based on law or evidence,” he said.

Hisyam also argued that it was not in the public interest when an accused person is unnecessarily or wrongly charged.

“It eats up judicial time. In fact, it is an abuse of process. This honourable court must sound the alarm that judicial time is precious and cannot be abused. To the accused, irreparable harm has been done. It is inherent in the office of the public prosecutor that he acts fairly for he is a minister of justice. The public prosecutor must be fair to the accused,” he said.

Zahid, 68, is facing 47 charges – 12 of CBT, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering-involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

The hearing of submissions before Sequerah continues tomorrow.

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