Zahid’s lawyers succeed in expunging post-GE14 ‘project promise’ from MACC investigator’s testimony on RM5m Berani & Jujur cheques

Ida Lim
·4-min read
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 11, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 11, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — The High Court today agreed to remove mention of an alleged promise for a purported multi-million ringgit project during the 2017 handover of RM5 million worth of cheques by the company Berani & Jujur Trading’s owner to then home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, following objections from Zahid’s lawyers.

This happened while Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigator Mohd Zamri Abdul Rashid was testifying as the 92th prosecution witness in Zahid’s money-laundering, bribery and criminal breach of trust trial, with the court removing such a mention in Zamri’s witness statement.

Zamri today read out his witness statement in court, which was on his investigations on alleged bribes said to have been received by Zahid in 2016 and 2017 via businessman Junaith Asharab Md Shariff in the form of a RM250,000 cheque issued by Jogabonito Jewellery & Diamonds, 13 cheques worth RM8 million issued by Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services, and 10 cheques worth RM5 million from Berani & Jujur Trading.

Junaith Asharab runs a textile wholesale business through the company Berani & Jujur Trading.

Among other things, Zamri said his investigations showed Junaith Asharab as having brought 10 cheques worth RM500,000 each and issued by Berani & Jujur Trading to a meeting with Zahid and Zahid’s younger brother Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi in early 2017 at Zahid’s residence at Country Heights, Kajang.

Zamri said Junaith Asharab had left the recipient’s name blank on all 10 cheques totalling RM5 million as he did not know who to issue the cheques to.

At the meeting, Junaith Asharab handed over the 10 cheques to Zahid as witnessed by Mohamad Nasaee, but with Zahid then handing them to the younger brother, who then passed them back to Zahid, the MACC investigator said today.

Testifying further on his investigations, Zamri said Zahid had told Junaith Asharab to make the cheques out to law firm Lewis & Co as it is a trustee for Zahid.

The MACC officer further confirmed that all 10 cheques totalling RM5 million were later banked in into the law firm’s client’s account on Zahid’s instructions.

Businessman Junaith Asharab Md Shariff is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 19, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Businessman Junaith Asharab Md Shariff is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 19, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

In the 55th paragraph of his written witness statement, Zamri said that Zahid had allegedly promised Junaith Asharab a project worth around RM50 million after the 14th general election, during the 2017 meeting where the RM5 million cheques from Berani Jujur & Trading were handed over.

Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh then objected to the entire 55th paragraph and wanted it to be deleted, arguing that the alleged promise of a RM50 million project was an “opinion” by Zamri and not a fact, as Junaith Asharab had previously as the 36th prosecution witness told the court there was no such promise.

Deputy public prosecutor Gan Peng Kun highlighted that the contents of the 55th paragraph was actually also in Junaith Asharab’s written witness statement in court, but referred to how Junaith Asharab had at court later became a “hostile witness” by contradicting himself and agreeing with Zahid’s lawyers that there was no promise of the project.

Gan however said that the content in the 55th paragraph was present when the MACC officer Zamri was carrying out the investigations on the cheques.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah noted that the statement could remain if it is factual and if it was a fact gathered during the time of investigations, but should be removed if it is an opinion.

Gan further said that the prosecution had declared Junaith Asharab to be a hostile witness as it was maintaining that the contents of the 55th paragraph based on the MACC investigator’s investigations is the “truth”, asking for the court to allow the 55th paragraph to remain and be subject to further submissions or arguments by lawyers from both sides.

Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik however argued that the 55th paragraph should be removed from Zamri’s written witness statement as it amounts to an “opinion”, arguing that the declaration of Junaith Asharab as a hostile witness meant that he no longer stood by his own witness statement and that the MACC investigator was now purportedly imposing his own views.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi however stressed that the 55th paragraph is not an opinion but are facts from what Zamri had investigated as an investigating officer in this case.

The judge finally decided to only keep the part in 55th paragraph that referred to the meeting to hand over the RM5 million cheques as it was factual, but deleted the rest of the paragraph — including the mention of the alleged promise of a RM50 million project after the 14th general election — as there would be prejudice due to Junaith Asharab having been declared a hostile witness.

The trial involving 47 charges against Zahid — who is also Umno president and former deputy prime minister — resumes tomorrow morning.

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