Foreign visa system trial: Envelope containing cash payments to Zahid delivered in-person late at night on a monthly basis for political donation, witness tells court

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Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Shah Alam High Court May 11, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Shah Alam High Court May 11, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

SHAH ALAM, May 18 — A brown envelope containing cash payments from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) amounting to several hundred thousand in Singapore dollars was delivered in person to Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s residence late at night on a monthly basis for the purpose of political contribution, a key witness told the High Court today.

Former UKSB director Harry Lee Vui Khiun, who is also the prosecution’s 15th witness, testified as such during former home minister Ahmad Zahid’s Foreign Visa System (VLN) corruption trial.

According to the facts of the case, UKSB had entered into several agreements with the Malaysian Government and the Home Ministry for visa facilitation services by operating several One Stop Centres (OSC) in the People’s Republic of China from 2012 onwards.

Lee then described in meticulous detail how the monthly cash payments to Ahmad Zahid were delivered to either the latter’s private residence at Country Heights, Kajang or his official residence at Seri Satria, Putrajaya between 2014 and 2018.

Firstly, Lee said deliveries would only be exclusively done by one person and the money would be delivered inside an envelope without the presence of any visitors before being placed on a table.

“The delivery dates of the money were not set. The delivery would be done at Datuk Seri Zahid’s convenience as we understood that he was a busy man.

“Thus, the delivery can take place on any date of the month as decided by Datuk Seri Zahid.

“The handing over of the money would be done at his residence at night, usually after 10pm, and we would ensure that there were no other visitors at his house before entering,” he said.

After a short conversation with Ahmad Zahid, Lee said he would usually excuse himself and leave the room.

Asked by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran how many times he had personally made the deliveries, Lee estimated he made around 40 deliveries over the span of four years.

As to why the envelopes are left on a table and not given to Ahmad Zahid by hand, Lee said this was the norm practised from day one onwards where he would place the envelope on a table and wait for Ahmad Zahid to enter the room.

Zahid never questioned contribution or asked for it to be returned

In his witness statement, Lee testified that UKSB would never have given Ahmad Zahid any money if the latter had not asked for it.

Earlier, Lee had told the court that cash money in the form of Singapore dollars was delivered to Ahmad Zahid personally on a monthly basis from 2014 to 2018.

On top of the monthly contribution, Lee also revealed that UKSB had from time to time also sponsored Ahmad Zahid’s overseas trips, his wife’s birthday celebration and also Hari Raya celebrations.

“While it is true that Datuk Seri Zahid did not explicitly ask us to give him money, he never questioned us about the money that we gave and not once did he ever ask us to take back the money,” Lee said.

Asked to explain why such contributions were made in the first place, Lee said it was to his understanding that if he could contribute to Ahmad Zahid’s political fund and maintain a good relationship with the government of the day, UKSB’s existing contract in managing the VLN would be retained.

Lee noted that since there were several up-and-coming competitors who have shown interest in managing the VLN contract, he was hopeful that the government would maintain the status quo of the existing contractual agreement with UKSB.

“Even though the fund payments were said to be political contributions, UKSB never made any payments into Umno’s account nor were we issued receipts or any acknowledgement for the payments.

“I handed over the money to Datuk Seri Zahid personally and not through any representative,” he said.

During cross-examination, Lee vehemently denied he had shirked his duty as a director after defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik asked if he knew about the existence and details of a ledger on the monthly payments made to Ahmad Zahid that Tan owned.

Hisyam suggested to Lee that he had failed to perform due diligence as the “person in control of the company” for concealing the existence of the ledger from auditors’ scrutiny, of which the alleged payments to Ahmad Zahid were not reflected in the company’s annual financial statements between 2014 and 2018.

While Lee acknowledged the ledger’s existence, he conceded that he was unaware of the details logged within and kept its existence from another UKSB director, Datuk Fadzil Ahmad.

Ahmad Zahid, 69, is facing 33 charges of accepting a bribe of SG$13.56 million from UKSB, for himself as home minister to extend the company’s contract as the operator of OSC Services in China and VLN Systems as well as maintaining a contract agreement to supply VLN integrated systems to the same company by KDN (Home Ministry).

For the other seven charges, Ahmad Zahid is alleged to have obtained for himself S$1.15 million, RM3 million, EUR15,000 and US$15,000 in cash from UKSB that had links with his official duties.

The trial before Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa continues tomorrow.

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