Thursday, May 26, 2022

To acquit or not, court decision today on Zahid’s graft case

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah will decide today whether the former deputy prime minister will be acquitted or told to enter his defence.

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A decision on whether Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will be acquitted or ordered to enter his defence on 47 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) funds will be made known today.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah is scheduled to deliver his decision at the end of the prosecution’s case at 9.30am.

If the court decides in favour of the prosecution that there is a prima facie case against Zahid, 68, he will be called to enter his defence, but if the judge decides otherwise, Zahid will be acquitted and discharged.

Sequerah set the date on Dec 6 after hearing submissions by deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran and counsels Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and Hamidi Mohd Noh who are representing the former deputy prime minister.

The hearing for submissions lasted 24 days from Sept 6 last year.

On March 19, 2021, the prosecution closed its case after calling 99 witnesses including Zahid’s former special officer Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, legal firm Lewis & Co partner B Muralidharan, money changer Omar Ali Abdullah and Zahid’s former executive secretary Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly. The trial began on Nov 18, 2019.

Zahid had pleaded not guilty to 12 CBT charges, eight counts of bribery and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

In the CBT charges, Zahid was alleged to have used the funds to make six payments for his personal credit cards usage, insurance policy and licence for his personal vehicles, remittances to a law firm and contributions to the Royal Malaysia Police Football Association.

The offences were allegedly committed at Affin Bank in Jalan Bunus off Jalan Masjid India, between Jan 13, 2014 and Dec 23, 2016. The charges, under Section 409 of the Penal Code, provide for a jail term of between two and 20 years, with whipping and a fine, upon conviction.

Zahid was also charged with eight counts of bribery, where he was alleged to have accepted bribes from three companies – Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services, Data Sonic Group Bhd and Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd – as an inducement for him, in his capacity as home minister then, to help the companies obtain MyEG projects, supply passport chips and be appointed the operator of the migrant visa one-stop centres in Pakistan and Nepal, respectively.

He was charged with committing the offences, framed under Section 16(a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, at the Maybank branch at Dataran Maybank in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, between July 15, 2016 and March 15, 2018.

The Bagan Datuk MP also faces 27 charges of money laundering in which he is accused of engaging in direct transactions involving income from illegal activities between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.

The offences were allegedly committed at Malayan Banking, Dataran Maybank branch, Level 1, Tower A, No. 1 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar and Marhaba Enterprise Sdn Bhd, LG 1.15, Fahrenheit88, 179 Jalan Bukit Bintang, between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.

Zahid also faces 40 charges at the Shah Alam Sessions Court of having accepted bribes from a company regarding the overseas visa system, which brings the total number of charges against him to 87. Hearing for the case is set to continue on Feb 3.

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