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Zahid's corruption charges, from prima facie to discharge

A look back at the timeline of the Umno president's Yayasan Akalbudi case.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi raises his fist as he leaves the Kuala Lumpur court complex, Sept 4. Photo: Reuters
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi raises his fist as he leaves the Kuala Lumpur court complex, Sept 4. Photo: Reuters

The outcome of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's corruption trial today was long awaited, as many considered the fate of the Umno president closely linked with the survival of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's government. 

Zahid was, after all, instrumental in ensuring that the PKR leader achieved his decades-long ambition of becoming the prime minister, committing the support of his 30 MPs from Barisan Nasional for Anwar's Pakatan Harapan (PH) and breaking the stalemate from the hung parliament after the inconclusive results of last year's election.

Zahid himself was a key campaign issue during the general election, where PH leaders warned voters that a vote for a BN candidate was a vote for Zahid's bid to escape the 47 graft charges against him. 

The Umno president for his part told his party leaders that their survival would hinge on whether or not they remained in the government. 

The PH cautions were exemplified, among others, in a song by rapper Altimet depicting Zahid and his BN leaders as robbers which went viral ahead of the Nov 19 polls.

But all of that changed just a few days after the election, when Zahid committed the support of his coalition to PH.

His subsequent appointment as deputy prime minister put him on more confident footing, in stark contrast to the day he went to meet then prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin with a stack of court files in hand.

The Yayasan Akalbudi case had seen Zahid slapped with 47 counts of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.

On Jan 24, 2022, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against him.

The charges were part of a larger slew of 87 brought against Zahid, including 40 of accepting bribes related to the overseas visa system. 

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said then that the prosecution, which called a total of 99 witnesses, had proven all of the elements of the Yayasan Akalbudi charges against Zahid. 

Zahid was accused of using 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.

He was also charged with eight counts of bribery, where he was alleged to have accepted bribes as an inducement for him, in his capacity as home minister then, to help three companies obtain MyEG projects, supply passport chips and be appointed the operator of the migrant visa one-stop centres in Pakistan and Nepal, respectively.

For the money laundering charges, he was accused of engaging in direct transactions involving income from illegal activities between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.

The prosecution said among others that Zahid and his wife had used over RM1.3 million in Yayasan Akalbudi funds to pay for his credit card charges for shopping at luxury stores like Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who was leading the prosecution team at the time, said the amount was spent in just two years, at high-end department stores around the world and locally.