Friday, May 20, 2022

Zahid to take the stand over 47 charges related to charity foundation

The Umno president will be the first witness to take the stand when the defence trial begins at the Kuala Lumpur High Court tomorrow.

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Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will answer his 47 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering in relation to Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) funds tomorrow.

When contacted, his counsel Hamidi Mohd Noh said Zahid would be the first witness to take the stand when the defence trial begins at 9am before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The judge had previously fixed 39 days to hear the case by the defence: April 13 and 15, May 23 to 26, June 27 to 30, July 1 and 4 to 7, Aug 22, 23, 29, 30, Sept 19 to 22 and 26-29, Oct 17 to 20 and 31 and Nov 1 to 3 and 7 to 10.

The Bagan Datuk MP chose to testify under oath from the witness stand with the prosecution given the opportunity to question him during cross-examination.

On Jan 24, Sequerah ordered Zahid to enter his defence for 12 charges of CBT, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to YAB.

The judge ruled that the prosecution had proven all the elements of all the charges and successfully made out a prima facie case against the accused.

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 Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly.

The trial began on Nov 18, 2019.

For the CBT charges, Zahid was alleged to have used the funds to make six payments for his personal credit cards, insurance policy and licences 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, Kuala Lumpur, 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.

Zahid, who is also Umno president, also faces 27 charges of money laundering where 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.

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