Normal for businesses to lobby govt officials for contracts, ex-company director says in Zahid Hamidi's trial over visa systems deal

·4-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

SHAH ALAM, June 9 — A former director of Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) today told the High Court here today that it is “typical” for those running businesses to lobby senior government officials for contracts to public projects.

Testifying against Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamid, who is accused of corruption over the Foreign Visa System (VLN), Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani said UKSB would not have been able to get the contracts or an extension to the VLN and One Stop Centre (OSC) if not for the former minister.

Zahid took over the Home Ministry portfolio from Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein after the 13th general election.

“After the 13th general election on May 5, 2013, Harry Lee asked my help to consolidate UKSB’s businesses following a Cabinet reshuffle. Harry asked me to deal with the Home Ministry to establish a connection with Ahmad Zahid,” Wan Quoris Shah said.

Harry Lee Vui Khiun was another UKSB director and the previous prosecution witness in Zahid's trial.

Wan Quoris Shah explained that Lee had asked him to make the connection so UKSB could obtain the supply and service contracts from the government during his tenure as a company director between May 2013 and August 2018. .

“The contract provided lucrative returns for the company and at the same time UKSB was given the opportunity to assist the government in facilitating the approval of Malaysian visa in a more efficient and quicker manner.

“For that, UKSB is very grateful to Ahmad Zahid because without his assistance and undivided support, UKSB would never have succeeded in retaining and extending the aforementioned contracts,” the 16th prosecution witness added in his witness statement.

According to the facts of the case, UKSB entered into several agreements with the Malaysian government and the Home Ministry for visa facilitation services by operating several OSC in China from 2012 onwards.

Wan Quoris Shah related that he was became acquainted with Ahmad Zahid in 2003 through their affiliation with Umno and occasional meetings in party activities.

He said he was not very close with Ahmad Zahid in the beginning, but had saved the latter’s phone number as the latter was part of Umno's top echelon of leaders then.

It was only in mid-2013 that Wan Quoris Shah managed to secure his first private meeting with Ahmad Zahid when the latter’s son was hospitalised following an accident.

“Our purpose in meeting Datuk Seri Zahid was to explain to him about our involvement in the visa processing business because he had just been appointed the Home Minister at that point in time,” Wan Quoris Shah told the court, referring to himself and Lee.

Wan Quoris Shah said that after their hospital meeting, Ahmad Zahid seemed to understand the nature of UKSB’s business and subsequently gave them positive feedback.

“Zahid said he will help me because he knows me as an Umno man. Datuk Seri said he will assist me but did not disclose what form of assistance will be given and never suggested anything,” he said.

Lee, who had been the prosecution's 15th witness, previously testified that Ahmad Zahid received monthly cash payments of hundreds of thousands in Singapore dollars between 2014 and 2018, including sponsored overseas trips, from UKSB in relation to the federal government’s VLN contract.

Lee recalled that Ahmad Zahid would constantly mention Umno and its need for funding during various meetings held between the two men in relation to the VLN contract from 2014 onwards — during the latter’s tenure as home minister and deputy prime minister beginning 2015.

Lee said that after getting to know Ahmad Zahid during a hospital visit after GE13, the latter had indicated the need for contribution to his political fund and asked for assistance in matters relating to Umno.

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.

For another seven counts, Ahmad Zahid was charged as home minister to have obtained for himself S$1,150,000, RM3 million, €15,000 and US$15,000 in cash from the same company in connection with his official work.

The trial before Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa continues on June 13.

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