January 25, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will take the stand to give his side of the story in the alleged misappropriation of tens of millions of ringgit in a scandal involving Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB), the charity foundation he founded.
The Bagan Datuk MP has chosen to testify under oath in his defence trial – scheduled to begin on April 26 – after he was ordered to enter his defence on all 47 charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), bribery and money laundering. Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah said the accused has three options in his defence: to give sworn evidence from the witness stand and be open for cross-examination; to give an unsworn statement from the dock with no opportunity for cross-examination; or to remain silent.
“Can the alternatives be explained to the accused?” the judge said.
Ahmad Zahid consulted with his lawyer briefly and replied: “My Lord, I choose option number one.”
Earlier, the judge began his brief decision in the case with his ruling on the immunity issue raised by the defence during submissions.
During submissions, the defence said Ahmad Zahid should have been immune from prosecution for truthfully disclosing all information on transactions involving YAB through two statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), pursuant to Section 30(3)(b) of the MACC Act.
Under Section 30 (7), it is stated that any person who discloses any information to the MACC shall not be prosecuted unless he makes a false or misleading statement, and Ahmad Zahid’s defence argued that he should have been “clothed with immunity” from prosecution.
The court, however, rejected this.
“I find no merit in the contention that the accused is entitled to immunity to the relevant charges,” Justice Sequerah said.
Ahmad Zahid is facing 12 charges of CBT under Section 409 of the Penal Code, eight charges of bribery under Section 16(a)(B) of the MACC Act 2009 and 27 charges of money laundering under S4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.Justice Sequerah said that after conducting a maximum evaluation of the prosecution’s case, the court found that all ingredients of all the charges had been proven.
“The prosecution has thus successfully made out a prima facie case in the case. I therefore call upon the accused to enter his defence on all charges,” he added.
Ahmad Zahid, who stood in the dock, did not react when the verdict was delivered.
His lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik also asked the court for a longer time to prepare as his client had been ordered to enter his defence on all 47 charges.
Previously, the defence had been fixed for March 28.
“Can we suggest to my lord that the defence be given more time because we need to interview witnesses, study their statements and prepare witness statements,” Hisyam said.
Hisyam said the defence would be calling over 20 witnesses.
The court then agreed to the April date.The court then locked in 39 hearing days from April 26 to 28, May 23 to 26, June 27 to 30, July 4 to 7, Aug 22 to 23, 29 and 30, Sept 19 to 22 and 26 to 29, Oct 17 to 20 and 31 and Nov 1 to 3, as well as Nov 7 to 10.
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran led the prosecution team.
The trial, which began on Nov 18, 2019, has seen 99 prosecution witnesses taking the stand.
The hearing for submissions began on Sept 6, 2021 and lasted 24 days.
For the 12 CBT charges, Ahmad Zahid allegedly used the funds to make six payments for his personal credit cards, insurance policy and licence for his personal vehicles, remittances to a law firm and contributions to the Royal Malaysia Police football association.
The offences were allegedly committed at the Affin Bank Bhd branch in Jalan Bunus off Jalan Masjid India here between Jan 13, 2014 and Dec 23, 2016.
For the eight bribery charges, Ahmad Zahid allegedly 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 then home minister, to help the companies to obtain MyEG projects, supply passport chips and to be appointed the operator of migrant visa one-stop centres in Pakistan and Nepal, respectively.
He allegedly committed the offences at the Maybank branch at Dataran Maybank in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar between July 15, 2016 and March 15, 2018.
Ahmad Zahid also faced 27 charges of money-laundering by engaging in direct transactions involving income from illegal activities.
All the money laundering offences were allegedly committed at Malayan Banking Bhd, 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 near here between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.