The High Court in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s graft case was today told that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case in all 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges against him involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds as his former aide had control and custody over the cheque books of the charity foundation as well as the former deputy prime minister.
Defence counsel Hamidi Mohd Noh said the issuance of all 52 cheques in the 12 CBT charges was linked to Zahid’s former executive secretary, Mejar Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly, who is the 90th prosecution witness (SP90).
“For the 12 CBT charges, SP90 is the prosecution’s most important witness because at the material time, she managed the financial affairs of Yayasan Akalbudi, particularly on making payments for Yayasan’s account.
“Mejar Mazlina had full control, possession and custody of all cheque books belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi and the accused, and she was the only one who held the keys to the drawer where the cheques were kept. Even the accused did not have the keys.
“It is SP90’s evidence that she had also been managing the accused’s personal matters, particularly the accused’s personal finances including his personal cheques. These tasks were taken upon the handing over of duties from Rosnah (the accused’s previous executive secretary) to SP90,” he said in his submission at the end of the prosecution’s case before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Hamidi said it was thus safe to infer that the accused himself had neither the liberty nor the access to prepare the relevant cheques.
“A close scrutiny of the circumstances on how and why the cheques were issued will show that criminal liability cannot be attached to the accused,” he said.
The lawyer also said that of the 52 cheques, 44 were related to credit card charges.
Hamidi further submitted that there was no criminal liability on the part of the accused in respect of the 32 stamped cheques used for the credit card payments.
He said his client did not put the stamped signatures on all 32 cheques, and there was no evidence that the stamp was in the accused’s possession although unequivocal evidence said SP90 did so.
“Culpability must be attached to SP90 as she had negligently stamped the cheques. Despite her evidence that the accused had given consent (which was challenged), her evidence on this point and others where she tries to implicate the accused does not inspire confidence.
“There is a further reason why the evidence from SP90 where she said the accused consented to the stamp being used for the cheque purposes cannot be credible. The reason is the prosecution did not produce any authorisation for the bank to clear its cheques with stamped signatures instead of them being handwritten,” 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.
For the 12 CBT charges, Zahid is alleged to have used the funds to make payments for personal credit card bills, insurance policies and licences for his personal vehicles, besides remittances to a law firm and contributions to the police football association under Section 409 of the Penal Code.
The defence will continue with its submissions tomorrow.