Prosecution in foreign visa trial argues defence never disputed Zahid received bribes as a direct result of being home minister

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

SHAH ALAM, Sept 5 — Lawyers acting for Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not once dispute that bribes amounting to millions in cash he was accused of receiving were directly linked to his role as the home minister from 2013 to 2018, the High Court heard today.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin was challenging the defence’s submission of selective prosecution against Ahmad Zahid in court previously.

The DPP argued that the defence had sought to “fish out” the names of other high-profile people from a ledger owned by Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) — the company that was awarded the foreign visa (system) that is the crux of the charges against Ahmad Zahid — but did not deny its existence.

That ledger was prepared by UKSB’s former administrative manager David Tan Siong Sun for bookkeeping purposes on cash payments made by UKSB to various politicians, government staff and Ahmad Zahid himself.

“They had used the ledger to support their defence of selective prosecution.

“The defence version seemed to be that not only the accused had received monies from UKSB but there are other characters who had also received monies from UKSB.

“But it is our humble submission that the monies received by the accused had a direct connection with his portfolio then,” Wan Shaharuddin said in his oral submission before trial judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa.

Since the defence failed to challenge the ledger’s authenticity and codenames Ahmad Zahid is referred to, Wan Shaharuddin said the ledger’s contents validated the testimonies of three key witnesses who have testified over Ahmad Zahid’s acceptance of monthly cash payments from the company.

The three prosecution witnesses were former UKSB directors Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani and Harry Lee Vui Khiun, and Tan.

“Lee, Wan Quoris and Tan corroborated with each other and the contents of the ledger bolstered their evidence,” Wan Shaharuddin said.

Lee previously testified 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 during the latter’s stint as Home Minister.

As for the defence’s attempt to portray key prosecution witnesses as untrustworthy, Wan Shaharuddin said news articles containing denials made by other alleged recipients including well-known politicians are deemed inadmissible in law.

He then sought for the court to disregard them and expunge them from the records.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Abdul Malik Ayob also sought to convince the court that Ahmad Zahid had received the money as gratification for himself according to the testimonies of key witnesses from UKSB.

Abdul Malik said UKSB had neither paid the money into Umno’s bank account nor obtained receipts for payments; adding that Ahmad Zahid himself did not refuse the money when they were handed to him as well.

“The contributions were made in cash delivered to the accused personally and were never paid into Umno’s account although the payments were said to be political contributions,” he said.

Zahid was also an Umno vice-president and the acting Umno deputy president between 2014 and 2018 when the money was received.

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.