Monday, July 4, 2022

Charity funds transferred to legal firm as aide was careless, Zahid tells court

He denies committing criminal breach of trust, saying he had no choice but to transfer the funds for the firm to manage.

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Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today denied committing criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving RM17,953,185.21 of Yayasan Akalbudi funds, claiming that he transferred the money to a legal firm because his former executive secretary was prone to making mistakes in handling cash.

This was the amount involved in the sixth of 12 CBT charges that the former deputy prime minister is currently facing.

Zahid, 69, told the High Court that he appointed Lewis & Co to handle the funds of the foundation owned by him because Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly had been careless in managing his personal money and Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

“As I said earlier in my statement, Mazlina committed mistakes on many occasions, including writing a figure different from the amount spelled out in cheques and not sending monthly credit card statements and other documents when asked.

“The transfer of the foundation’s funds to the legal firm was not for misappropriation but for the firm to manage the client account of the foundation as the firm had officers who were skilled in managing the account,” he said.

Zahid said this when questioned by lawyer Ahmad Zaidi Zainal on the fourth day of his defence proceedings for 47 charges of CBT, corruption and money laundering.

According to Zahid, he had many times advised and guided Mazlina, the 90th prosecution witness, as she did not have an accounting background.

“She (Mazlina) merely apologised but repeated these acts. What choice did I have other than finding ways to transfer the whole of Yayasan Akalbudi funds in a bank (Affin Bank) current account to a legal firm with an accountant, accounting officer and bookkeeper to handle the client account?” he said.

Asked by Zaidi why he chose Lewis & Co to handle the Yayasan Akalbudi funds, Zahid said an officer at the home ministry had introduced him to lawyers at the firm.

On the transfer of Yayasan Akalbudi funds to Lewis & Co, Zahid said he personally instructed Affin Bank to transfer RM17,953,185.21 from the bank to the client account of Lewis & Co, and that money still belonged to Yayasan Akalbudi and did not belong to Yayasan Al Falah, the legal firm or other individuals.

Zahid also said he had never directed Mazlina to use Yayasan Akalbudi funds totalling RM107,509.55 to pay vehicle insurance and licence fees.

“I did not know Mazlina would use pre-signed cheques to make payments for insurance policies and the licences of privately owned vehicles.

“Cheques which I pre-signed were for urgent use like paying contractors for construction work undertaken by the foundation at the time or urgent payments which needed to be settled when I was overseas,” he said.

During the prosecution stage, the court was told that Zahid and his family took out 39 insurance policies for 20 vehicles owned by the family, including 18 luxury vehicles belonging to him such as a BMW X5, Mini Cooper S, Mercedes Benz CLS350, BMW 320i (A), Toyota Land Cruiser and BMW R1200 GS motorcycle.

Zahid is on trial for 47 CBT, corruption and money laundering charges involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

On Jan 24, the court ordered him to enter his defence against all of the charges after finding that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against him.

The trial before justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.

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