KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today told the High Court he would certainly reject any donation if he knew it came from illegal sources, citing his Muslim faith when saying so.
Ahmad Zahid said this while testifying in his own corruption trial here, where he is alleged to have received RM21.25 million in bribes.
Ahmad Zahid, who is a former deputy prime minister, was asked today to elaborate on RM10 million in purported donations via 10 cheques which were banked into an account where money was allegedly held in trust for his charity Yayasan Akalbudi.
Asked about the alleged donation of RM10 million in 2016 by Singapore-based businessman Paul Wong Sang Woo via the 10 cheques, Ahmad Zahid insisted that he believed the money did not come from illegal sources.
"Because that donation came from a donor from Sarawak, and Paul Wong is a partner to that donor and he is not in Malaysia, and used that Wong to channel those cheques, therefore I certainly have the view that that money is not money which came from aktiviti haram atau sumber haram [illegal activities or illegal sources] which was given by that Wong.
"I, as a Muslim, if I know sumbernya haram [the source is illegal], then I would certainly reject such a donation, that is my pegangan [view]," he said in replying a question by his lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh.
Wong is a friend of Sarawak’s KTS Group’s late founder Datuk Seri Lau Hui Kang, and is also a director of Chia Bee Enterprise Sdn Bhd.
Chia Bee is the company which had issued the RM10 million via 10 cheques at RM1 million each.
Ahmad Zahid had previously on July 5 said he was confident that the RM10 million came from business and that he would certainly not have accepted the funds if he knew it came from gambling or gangsterism. He had also stressed that he would not carry out charity with funds which are from forbidden sources.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is also a former home minister― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to RM31 million charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges over RM21.25 million of alleged bribes.
Under 25 counts of the alleged offences of money-laundering, Ahmad Zahid is accused of having engaged directly in transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activities or funds originating from illegal activities, by allegedly instructing for such unlawful funds to be deposited as fixed deposits through the law firm Lewis & Co's client account.
Three of these charges involve the RM10 million cheques.
Ahmad Zahid and his lawyers have repeatedly asserted that Lewis & Co is a trustee holding funds in a client account for Yayasan Akalbudi.
Yayasan Akalbudi is a charitable foundation established with the aim of eradicating poverty and helping the poor, with its trustee and sole signatory for cheques being Ahmad Zahid.
Ahmad Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.