Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the High Court today that he did not question the source of the RM7 million given to Yayasan Akalbudi by two businessmen as it was donated for religious activities and charity purposes, not for his use.
Zahid, 69, said he had to consider that the donations to Yayasan Akalbudi were made with good intentions as the foundation conducted charity work for non-Muslims, not only in the Bagan Datuk parliamentary constituency, but also in other areas facing floods.
He said this when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong about the source of the RM5 million donated by textile wholesaler Junaith Asharab Md Shariff and the RM2 million that the foundation received from goldsmith Mubarak Hussain Akhtar Husin.
The former deputy prime minister also said he could not question their intentions in making the donations, adding that all contributions were considered a donation to Yayasan Akalbudi.
"The individuals involved are not members of a secret society and the police are not investigating them. It involves the issue of integrity, I cannot question their intentions when making the contributions, and any contributions I consider a donation to Yayasan Akalbudi," he said.
The Bagan Datuk MP also said there was no record on the receipt of the donations because the money was credited into Messrs Lewis & Co’s client account, which is the law firm that handles Yayasan Akalbudi's funds.
"There are allegations that the donations received were credited into my account, but it is not true and against the law. The donation cheques were given to Messrs Lewis & Co which handles the Yayasan Akalbudi funds," he said.
Meanwhile, Zahid disagreed with Harris Ong's suggestion that he was free to do anything that he wanted with donations received in the name of charity, adding that the donations were used following the guidelines and objectives of the foundation's establishment to carry out charity work and help the needy.
On the withdrawal of Yayasan Akalbudi funds totalling RM17.9 million to help his daughter, Nurulhidayah, take over the shares of Ri-Yaz Asset Sdn Bhd and operate a boutique hotel in Bali, Indonesia, Zahid said it was not done for the benefit of his daughter or himself.
Harris Ong: Yayasan Akalbudi funds are donated by donors for charity work for Muslims and non-Muslims, but the investment (Ri-Yaz) has derailed from the objective.
Zahid: Based on the objectives of the Yayasan Akalbudi trustee and the M&A (memorandum and articles of association), investments are made to generate extra income to carry out charity work.
He then agreed with Harris Ong that there were no written instructions regarding the withdrawal.
Zahid faces 47 charges: 12 of criminal breach of trust, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit in Yayasan Akalbudi funds.
On Jan 24, the court ordered Zahid to make his defence against all of the charges after the prosecution managed to prove a prima facie against him.
The trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.