High Court to decide Oct 28 if Syed Saddiq enters defence or not in CBT trial

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who is accused of four charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and misappropriation of funds amounting to more than RM1 million from funds belonging to Bersatu, will know on October 28 if he will have to defend himself in the High Court.

Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid announced the date to deliver his decision after hearing submissions from the prosecution and defence earlier today.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, who is representing Syed Saddiq, argued that the prosecution’s case is built on Section 24(8) of Bersatu’s constitution, which states that expenditure in excess of RM500,000 must be approved by the party's supreme council, and if withdrawals are made, they must be recorded to check the balance in the account.

Gobind, who is also Puchong MP, said that in Syed Saddiq’s case, the money that was used was solely for the purpose of aiding Bersatu and its Youth wing — named Armada — members. As such, he claimed there was no breach of the law.

Syed Saddiq was at that time the Bersatu Youth chief but has since exited and founded his own party, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance.

He is on trial for abetting Rafiq Hakim Razali who was at that time the Armada assistant treasurer, with CBT of RM1 million in funds belonging to Bersatu.

Gobind argued that that the entire prosecution case was politically motivated, with Rafiq giving contradicting evidence in court.

Gobind had tried to impeach Rafiq but was denied in court.

Summing up his argument, Gobind said that as Syed Saddiq didn't use the money for his personal gain, and that no offence had been committed.

“Submission must be made with evidence not plucked from the sky. If the prosecution want to accuse my client of trying to gain political mileage by using Bersatu funds then where's the proof? There is no evidence that he aided and abetted Rafiq.

“We respectfully submit that the prosecution failed to raise suspicion n the first charge and this is a very clear cut case and the court should rule there is no prima facie and direct him to be acquitted without calling his defence,” he said.

He added that most of the evidence produced in court against his client was based on hearsay.

“So are we charging someone for doing what he was supposed to do? My learned friend should admit that this case has collapsed,” he added.

But deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharudin Wan Ladin argued that Syed Saddiq's intent must be called into question.

He claimed the Muar MP had bad intentions when he instructed Rafiq to withdraw the money from Armada's accounts for safekeeping.

He also claimed that Syed Saddiq had not been given his full cooperation with investigators.

He argued that the evidence showed Syed Saddiq had clearly instructed his team, specifically Rafiq, to take the money from Armada's bank account and put it into his personal account.

Wan Shaharudin argued that Syed Saddiq had claimed he had a right to the money as he had worked hard for it during a Bersatu fundraiser for the 14th general election in 2018 for his Muar constituency in Johor.

“If you look at his actions it's clear he manufactured his defence from the start. It was an ingenious plan to cover up the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigations. If he was sincere from the start these matters would be brought up sooner not just when he entered his defence.

“Look at how long their cross examination is. Neither here nor there. So where do we go from here? In fact I am very confident to state here that we believe this case against the accused is stronger than the SRC case, stronger than Rosmah’s case, even stronger than Isa Samad's case,” Wan Shaharudin told the court in his submission.

He was referring to other recent criminal cases undertaken by the public prosecutor against several high profile public personas affiliated with Umno.

The SRC case referred to SRC International Sdn Bhd of which former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was found guilty and for which he is now serving time in prison. Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was also recently found guilty of several bribery charges connected with a solar power project for rural schools in Sarawak.

The four charges

According to the first charge, Syed Saddiq, 29, is charged as the then Bersatu Youth wing or Armada chief — who was entrusted with control of Armada funds — of abetting Rafiq Hakim Razali, Armada’s assistant treasurer at the time, with CBT of RM1 million in funds belonging to the wing.

He is alleged to have committed the offence at CIMB Bank Berhad, Menara CIMB KL Sentral, Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, here on March 6, 2020, and is charged under Section 406 of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment for up to 10 years with whipping, and is liable to a fine, if found guilty.

For the second charge, the accused is charged with misusing property for himself, namely RM120,000 from the Maybank Islamic Berhad account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise, by causing Rafiq to dispose of the money.

Syed Saddiq is accused of having committed the offence at Malayan Banking Berhad, Jalan Pandan 3/6A, Taman Pandan Jaya here, between April 8 and 21, 2018, and charged under Section 403 of the Penal Code, which carries a minimum jail term of six months and a maximum of five years with whipping, and is punishable by a fine, if convicted.

He also faces two counts of engaging in money laundering activities, namely two transactions of RM50,000, believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities, from his Maybank Islamic Berhad account into his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account.

Syed Saddiq is accused of committing the offence at a bank in Jalan Persisiran Perling, Taman Perling, Johor Baru, on June 16 and 19, 2018.

A total of 29 out of 37 witnesses testified in court against the former youth and sports minister. The trial spanned 21 days.