Foreign visa system trial: Unraveling the cash payments from UKSB involving millions of SGD to Ahmad Zahid

·5-min read
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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 ― With the prosecution resting its case in Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's case ― where he is charged with receiving bribes from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) over the award of a foreign visa system (VLN) ― this week, the recurring subject involving monthly cash payments of hundreds of thousands in Singapore dollar has become the trial's centrepiece.

At the start of Ahmad Zahid's trial, prosecutors contended that the former home minister took advantage of his position to reap monetary benefits for himself by receiving bribes in the form of various foreign currencies from UKSB between 2014 to 2018.

According to the charges, the Bagan Datuk MP stands accused of accepting the bribes as payment and inducement to maintain or extend UKSB’s appointment contract with the government for services rendered to the Home Ministry.

So how much was Ahmad Zahid given monthly and where it took during the four year period? Here’s what we know so far of the cash payments made by UKSB according to witness testimonies and a ledger used by UKSB for bookkeeping purposes on cash payments made to various politicians, government staff and Ahmad Zahid himself.

Malay Mail gives you a quick breakdown of the cash payments Ahmad Zahid received based on the witness testimony provided by the 18th prosecution witness ― Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) senior enforcer V. Mahendran.

First cash payment in October 2014

According to the testimony of the prosecution’s 15th witness Harry Lee Vui Khiun, Ahmad Zahid had previously indicated the need for contribution for the purpose of political funding and asked for assistance in matters relating to Umno after getting to know the Umno leader shortly after the 13th general election in May 2013.

Lee, who is also former UKSB director, had indicated to court that Ahmad Zahid explicitly stated the contribution should be made in cash and in Singapore dollars without specifying the sum which was to be given.

In October 2014, UKSB's first cash payment ― totalling S$200,000 ― was given to Ahmad Zahid at his private residence in Country Heights, Kajang Selangor.

This continued on until February 2015, where the initial S$200,000/month was increased to S$300,000/month on Ahmad Zahid's request.

An increase of S$100,000 per month roughly two years later With UKSB agreeing to Ahmad Zahid's request for the increment, the first S$300,000 cash payment was made in April 2015.

As there were no payments made in March 2015, a sum of S$600,000 was paid to Ahmad Zahid in April instead to make up for the previous month.

Monthly payments of S$300,000 continued on until June 2017 ― a span of 29 months or two years and five months.

While UKSB had missed several monthly payments, the outstanding sum will always be accounted for the following month.

Final increment of cash payment up to S$5520,000

In July 2017, the agreed amount of S$300,000 was once again asked by Ahmad Zahid to be further increased due to the upcoming general election in 2018.

Cash payments of S$520,000 were paid to Ahmad Zahid on a monthly basis from July 2017 onwards up until March 2018 where the final payment was delivered.

It was previously disclosed in court that the sum of S$520,000 was derived from roughly RM10,000 per division for the 100-odd Umno divisions after conversion.

But wait, where was the money given to Ahmad Zahid? As we have established, Ahmad Zahid met with UKSB representatives at his private residence in Country Heights, Kajang Selangor.

It was also later established that deliveries were made to Ahmad Zahid as well at the deputy prime minister's residence at Sri Satria, Putrajaya.

During each scheduled monthly meeting at Ahmad Zahid's convenience, which usually took place late at night, cash was delivered to Ahmad Zahid inside an envelope without the presence of any visitors.

Deliveries will always be exclusively performed by a single person, either by Lee or fellow UKSB director Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani.

One-off payments were given as well

On top of the monthly cash payments Ahmad Zahid received from UKSB, several one-off payments were made by the company as well.

UKSB made a total of seven one-off payments to Ahmad Zahid at his private residence in Country Heights for specified and unspecified reasons between June 2015 and March 2018.

They included payments for Hari Raya celebrations, Umno's 71st anniversary celebration, Ahmad Zahid's wife's birthday celebration and the 14th general election.

In total, Ahmad Zahid received RM3.125 million, 150,000 Singapore dollar, 15,000 US dollar and 15,000 Swiss Franc from these occasions.

Ahmad Zahid is facing 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from UKSB as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant and the then home minister to extend the contract of the company as the operator of the OSCs in China and the VLN system as well as to maintain the agreement to supply VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the Home Ministry.

Ahmad Zahid was charged with another seven counts as home minister who obtained S$1.15 million, RM3 million, CHF15,000 and US$15,000 in cash from the same company for himself in connection with his official work.

He is accused of committing all the offences at Seri Satria, Presint 16, Putrajaya, and Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.