Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Zahid withdrew RM17.9 million from charity foundation for daughter’s bid to buy Bali hotel, court told

Prosecution questions how the use of the funds was for the benefit of the poor.

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The High Court in Kuala Lumpur was today told that the withdrawal of RM17.9 million from Yayasan Akalbudi funds by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was, among others, to facilitate his daughter’s bid to buy a boutique hotel in Bali, Indonesia.

Deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran said Zahid’s eldest daughter, Nurulhidayah, was interested in taking over the shares of Ri-Yaz Asset Sdn Bhd and running the hotel in Bali.

“The interested buyer was Nurulhidayah. This was confirmed by Rashid Manaf (the 83th prosecution witness) and Mohd Shaheen Shah Mohd Sidek (the 84th prosecution witness) who both met Nurulhidayah and the accused to discuss the proposed venture,” she said.

Raja Rozela said it began when the accused gave specific instructions to Affin Bank to withdraw funds from Yayasan Akalbudi’s seven fixed deposit accounts totalling RM17,953,191.04 via Messrs Lewis & Co.

“The firm (Lewis & co) issued a cheque on June 30, 2016 for RM8.6 million to Ri-Yaz Asset Sdn Bhd upon receiving instruction from the accused.

“According to B Muralidharan (the 87th prosecution witness), he was instructed by the accused to make the payment for the purpose of purchasing 60% of the company’s shares from Rashid who was then Ri-Yaz Asset’s chairman.

“Previously, Rashid told the court that he had sought to sell off his shares because the company was facing difficulties in terms of repayment for a US$24.8 million Exim Bank loan for the purchase of the hotel in Bali, Indonesia,” she said.

Raja Rozela said this in her submission at the end of the prosecution’s case against the former deputy prime minister, who is facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

She said Zahid was entrusted with Yayasan Akalbudi funds for a specific purpose to eradicate poverty and for the enhancement of the welfare of the poor and to conduct studies and research relevant to the poverty eradication programme.

“By no stretch of imagination can it be said that the usage of the funds was for the benefit of the poor, one way or the other.

“It defies credibility for the accused to actually suggest that transferring the millions was easier than transferring to his secretary. It is our contention that the real purpose for the RM17.9 million fixed deposit withdrawals was to facilitate his daughter’s bid to buy a hotel in Bali,” she said.

Meanwhile, Raja Rozela said Zahid had consciously opted to utilise Yayasan Akalbudi funds to pay off his personal credit card payments and motor insurance policies and road tax and not use his own personal bank account.

“Major Mazlina Mazlan (Zahid’s former executive secretary) in her statement said the cheques were prepared upon the instruction and with the knowledge of the accused,” she said.

The prosecution also rebutted the defence’s claim that Mazlina had full control and custody of the cheque books, and that therefore the accused did not have access to the cheque books.

“To insist that the accused had no access to these cheque books is merely an excuse because Zahid was Mazlina’s boss. All he had to do was just ask Mazlina to show him the cheque books and credit card statements.

“Our contention is that Mazlina did not purposely hide the cheque books from him. There is no basis to that conclusion,” she added.

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 before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Monday.

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