Saturday, May 21, 2022

I want justice, Zahid tells court in graft trial

He says he acted with good intentions, and that all of the foundation's funds were from his own pocket.

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Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today that Yayasan Akalbudi had contributed more than RM109 million for charity, denying allegations by the prosecution that not a single sen of the foundation’s funds was used to help the poor.

Zahid, 69, said the RM109 million was only part of the charitable contributions given by the foundation, adding that there were others that were not listed because of his belief in the principle of “what the right hand gives, the left hand does not need to know”.

He said this in his defence when questioned by his lawyer Ahmad Zaidi Zainal on the prosecution’s statement.

Zahid is defending himself on 47 charges of breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.

On Nov 18, 2019, the prosecution, in its opening statement, said it would prove that Zahid had misappropriated RM31 million in Akalbudi Foundation funds and that not a single sen of the money had been used for the benefit of the poor.

The Bagan Datuk MP also said he wanted justice to be given to him as he had acted for good.

“The money (in Akalbudi Foundation) is from my own sources, my own income, my own allowances, my own business. It was with good intention that the money was placed in a foundation which I set up, myself.

“Is this something that should be subjected to humiliation, embarrassment and oppression?” he said.

Zahid however admitted that there had been technical errors due to the weaknesses of several parties, especially the company secretary of the foundation.

“There were technical weaknesses, but in terms of purpose and practice, it was only for the good because of Allah alone,” he added.

According to Zahid, he had appointed Idris Kechek and Mahinder Kaur as the company secretaries for Yayasan Akalbudi. He said Idris, who had held the post for 10 years since 1997, had never updated or submitted the account report for the foundation to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).

“Only in 2012 after the change of the members of the board of trustees did I find out that Idris Kechek never sent any documents to SSM or prepared an account for the Akalbudi Foundation.

“In 2012, Mahinder Kaur was appointed as company secretary for Yayasan Akalbudi to replace Idris Kechek. However, it was only in this court that I found out that she had prepared the documents for the change of trustees, the accounting documents and others, but did not send them to SSM,” he said.

He also said Samsuri Tun, Zulkifli Senteri, Muhammad Nabil Saleh and Khairuddin Tarmizi had been appointed as Yayasan Akalbudi trustees.

When questioned by Zaidi about whether the four trustees had ever contributed to the foundation’s funds, Zahid replied that 100% of the money was from his own pocket.

“It’s my own contribution to the foundation and not a single sen from any of the trustees that I appointed,” he added.

Zahid faces 47 charges – 12 of CBT, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit of Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

On Jan 24, the court ordered Zahid to enter his defence against all of the charges after the prosecution succeeded in proving a prima facie against him.

The trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on May 23.

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