Thursday, October 21, 2021

Zahid’s lawyer denies millions for charity outfit from unlawful activities

Hisyam Teh Poh Teik says his client, on most occasions, had not known or had any connection with the individuals who had issued the cheques.

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The High Court was told today that the millions of ringgit that went to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s charity outfit Yayasan Akalbudi were donations, and not derived from unlawful activities.

Lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who is representing Zahid, said the prosecution had not produced any evidence to show that the proceeds were from unlawful activities, or that there were commissions of one or more of the serious offences or conduct by the accused that could lead or had led to the commission of any of the serious offences.

“Based on the above arguments, it is respectfully and forcefully submitted that this ingredient has not been proven by the prosecution – no evidence that the monies involved were proceeds of unlawful activity or activities within the meaning of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” he said in his submissions at the end of the prosecution’s case before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Hisyam said the accused, on most occasions, had not known or had any nexus with the owners of the cheques.

“The transactions were openly maintained and kept in the trust accounts of law firm Messrs Lewis & Co, and the money trails relating to the cheques could be traced with no attempts by the accused to conceal any of them,” he said.

The lawyer added that the 39th prosecution witness (SP39), Leong Siew Kong, who is a manager at Maybank’s Dataran Maybank branch, had confirmed that the bank did not receive any subsequent letter from Lewis & Co stating that they were suspicious of the funds.

The court previously heard that various individuals and companies had contributed to Yayasan Akalbudi, and that the money was deposited into Lewis & Co’s account.

“He (Leong) further confirmed that the reason for the placement was to earn higher interest and there was no illegality about it. During re-examination, Leong said that no red flag was raised for the required report to be made to the central bank, as the transactions were normal,” Hisyam said.

The lawyer said Yayasan Akalbudi had received donations from Yayasan Al-Bukhari (RM500,000), Chia Bee Enterprise Sdn Bhd, owned by philanthropist Wong Sang Woo (RM10 million), and MyEG Services Bhd non-executive director, Mohd Jimmy Wong Abdullah (RM9 million).

“Jimmy testified that he donated to Yayasan Akalbudi for charitable purposes (building mosques), and he confirmed that an ‘akad’ (promise) was performed to signify the acceptance of the donation,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the cheques paid by other individuals and companies to Yayasan Akalbudi, Hisyam said the prosecution had not produced evidence that the cheques from Cergas Murni Sdn Bhd, HRA Teguh, Ong Weng Fatt, Hwa Thong Bags Industries, Hussein Annifah, Rajan Thurairetnam, Rajan Gunaratnam, Patt Siew Ming, Mohyiddin Al-Halabi, Tarbush Al-Halabi, AlHalabi Lounge Sdn Bhd and Mubarak Hussain were sourced wrongfully.

“The cheques that were particularly obtained through SP81 (Omar Ali Abdullah), we say that the source of monies was legitimate as they were donations from Yayasan Al-Bukhari.

“Besides that, it is wrong for the prosecution to say that all of the donation monies were converted into cheques or bankers’ cheques or demand drafts to diminish the money trail, due to an overwhelming line of evidence from the bankers of the cheque owners confirming that there was nothing hideous behind the transactions of these cheques,” he said.

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

The defence will continue its submissions on Monday.

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