Graft case: Court decides tomorrow if Zahid must enter defence

·3-min read
Graft case: Court decides tomorrow if Zahid must enter defence
Graft case: Court decides tomorrow if Zahid must enter defence

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will know tomorrow whether he walks free or has to enter his defence to 47 charges of misappropriation, corruption, and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds worth tens of millions.

On Monday, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah is set to deliver his decision on whether the prosecution succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against the former deputy prime minister.

This is over 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT) counts, eight bribery charges, and 27 money laundering counts. Zahid pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Under criminal law, prima facie means a charge that, on the face of it, has been proven by the prosecution unless the accused later succeeds in raising reasonable doubt in the case.

The expected end-of-prosecution decision comes on the heels of 99 witnesses - including Zahid’s former special officer Wan Ahmad Wan Omar as well as the accused’s former executive secretary Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly - having testified during the trial that began on Nov 18, 2019.

Other notable witnesses that took the stand for the prosecution were B Muralidharan, a partner of legal firm Lewis & Co, and money changer Omar Ali Abdullah.

Funds allegedly used for personal gains

For the CBT charges, Zahid was accused of having used 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.

The offences were allegedly perpetrated at an Affin Bank Berhad branch in Jalan Bunus off Jalan Masjid India, Kuala Lumpur, between Jan 13, 2014, and Dec 23, 2016.

Under Section 409 of the Penal Code, the CBT offences are punishable with a maximum jail term of 20 years, as well as whipping, and fine.

In relation to the eight bribery charges, Zahid was purported to have accepted bribes from three firms - Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services, Data Sonic Group Bhd and Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd - as inducement for him, in his then capacity as home minister, to help the companies to secure MyEG projects, supply passport chips, and to be appointed the operator of the migrant visa one-stop centres in Pakistan and Nepal, respectively.

Laid under Section 16(a)(B) of the MACC Act 2009, the offences were allegedly committed at a Maybank branch at Dataran Maybank, in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, between July 15, 2016, and March 15, 2018.

In regards to the 27 money laundering charges, the Bagan Datuk MP was alleged to have engaged in direct transactions involving income from illegal activities, between March 29, 2016, and April 11, 2018.

The offences were purportedly committed at Malayan Banking Berhad, 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, Kuala Lumpur, between March 29, 2016, and April 11, 2018.

Possible defence trial stage

In the event that Zahid is ordered to enter his defence tomorrow on all or part of the charges, the High Court will preside over the defence stage of the trial beginning March 28 to 30, April 11 to 13, April 26 to 28, May 23 to 26 and June 27 to 30.

The prosecution team is led by senior deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran, while the defence team comprises counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and Hamidi Mohd Noh.

The Umno president also has an ongoing separate corruption trial before the Shah Alam High Court involving 40 charges linked to the overseas visa system (VLN).

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