Son-in-law: RM1.3m cheque issued to police’s football club after Zahid told of financial woes

Ida Lim
Datuk Zul Hisham Zainal is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 11, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — Charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi issued a RM1.3 million cheque to the Royal Malaysia Police Football Association (PDRM FA) in 2015 shortly after then home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was informed of the team’s financial problems, the High Court heard today.

Datuk Zul Hisham Zainal, the 40-year-old son-in-law of Zahid, said this when testifying as the 19th prosecution witness in the latter’s corruption trial.

Zul Hisham said the PDRM FA would usually, through its assistant secretary ASP Mohd Nizam Mohd Noor, ask him for help to obtain financial sponsorship for expenses.

He said that in 2015, he received a call from Nizam asking for financial aid to pay the outstanding wages of the football players.

“In that conversation, Encik Nizam stated that the RM1.3 million is for the payment of the wages of the players and the association’s administrative affairs,” he said, adding that he did not recall if any paperwork was sent to him for such a request.

“I then informed Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi about the PDRM Football Association’s request. Then I received an envelope containing a cheque from Yayasan Akalbudi staff and I had contacted Encik Nizam to hand over the cheque,” he added.

Zul Hisham verified that an Affin Bank cheque dated November 19, 2015 issued by Yayasan Akalbudi for RM1.3 million was the one he gave to Nizam.

However, Zul Hisham said he did not know of Yayasan Akalbudi and was never involved with the organisation, and only recently found out that one of its directors was his father-in-law, Zahid.

“All this time as the son-in-law of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, I had never known that my father-in-law has Yayasan Akalbudi or any other foundations,” said Zul Hisham, who has been married for 15 years to one of Zahid’s daughters.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 11, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Responding to Zahid’s lawyer, Datuk Rosal Azimin Ahmad, Zul Hisham said he had only heard of “rumours” about Yayasan Akalbudi.

Zul Hisham said he asked for the RM1.3 million from Zahid personally and not through Yayasan Akalbudi.

He agreed with Rosal Azimin, however, that Zahid had not legal obligation to assist the PDRM FA as the club did not fall directly under his responsibilities as the home minister at the time.

Rosal Azimin: Back to Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi as home minister, was he legally obliged to help the football players?

Zul Hisham: On the basis of sympathy.

Rosal Azimin: That means because he is home minister, he felt called to provide assistance.

Zul Hisham: Correct.

Rosal Azimin: How long after you ask from Datuk Seri, how soon did he provide assistance?

Zul Hisham: I remember it was not long after.

Agreeing that it was not simple to obtain RM1.3 million, Zul Hisham said he had also asked for the same sum from others without success.

Zul Hisham, who is a businessman, said he had been involved with the PDRM FA since 2014 especially in seeking for funds, but did not have any official positions in PDRM FA except for 2017 when he was the team’s manager.

He said that he gave financial aid to the football association in 2014 when the players’ wages were delayed by a few months, as his father-in-law Zahid who was home minister had told him of the need to look out for the players’ welfare.

Zul Hisham said an estimated RM500,000 to RM600,000 was needed each month to pay the 30 football players and 15 management personnel of the PDRM FA, agreeing with Rosal Azimin that these were full-time players that relied fully on the wages for their livelihood.

Rosal Azimin claimed that RM1 million was paid back to Yayasan Akalbudi on July 14, 2016 by the National Sports Council based on the foundation’s bank statement, with Zul Hisham agreeing that the remaining RM300,000 was a form of contribution to the needy such as the PDRM FA.

ASP Mohd Nizam Mohd Noor is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 11, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

What PDRM FA’s official said

PDRM FA’s assistant secretary Nizam, who testified as the 20th prosecution witness, said both the police and the National Sports Council did not allocate funds for his team, estimating that its monthly expenses could reach up to RM800,000.

Nizam said the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) would give around RM300,000 per season to teams competing in the Liga Perdana championship.

He said that PDRM FA had been under the patronage of the Home Ministry under Zahid since 2014, with all sponsorships carried out by Zul Hisham as the middleman between the association and Zahid with financial contributions received through cheques.

For companies that wish to receive tax exemption for sponsoring PDRM FA, such cheques will be issued under the National Sports Council’s name to the association, he said.

Shown PDRM FA’s financial records, Nizam confirmed that the football association only had RM1,960.95 left as of November 15, 2015, just days before the RM1.3 million entered its account on November 24, 2015.

When asked by Rosal Azimin if he agreed that the RM1.3 million was an advance by Yayasan Akalbudi with RM1 million allegedly returned subsequently, Nizam said he was unsure.

In this trial where Zahid is facing 47 charges, the prosecution had said it will prove that he misappropriated RM31 million from Yayasan Akalbudi — where he is the sole authorised signatory for cheques — that were then allegedly not spent to benefit the poor but for other purposes such as credit card bills.

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