Zahid says daughter has no stake in Bali hotel operator, just there to monitor charity’s RM8.6m investment

·5-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today insisted his daughter had no stake in a company that owned a hotel in Bali, Indonesia, and that she only helped to monitor his charity Yayasan Akalbudi’s RM8.6 million investment in the hotel management firm.

Ahmad Zahid said this while testifying as his own defence witness in his trial involving 47 corruption, money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges.

Asked about the use of RM8.6 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds in 2016 to buy a 60-per cent stake in hotel operator Ri-Yaz Assets Sdn Bhd, Ahmad Zahid maintained that his daughter did not have an interest or shares personally in the hotel firm.

“I never placed my daughter Datuk Nurulhidayah as shareholder. Instead, I told Tan Sri Manaf that because I have no time to monitor that investment, I therefore asked my daughter to monitor the investment that was made in Ri-Yaz,” he said in the High Court.

He was referring to businessman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Manaf, who was a majority shareholder of Ri-Yaz and whose 60 per cent share was to be purchased in the RM8.6 million transaction.

Nurulhidayah was appointed as a director of Ri-Yaz on January 27, 2017, but stepped down from the position on July 31, 2017 after the deal to buy over Abdul Rashid’s stake fell through.

Ahmad Zahid today also explained that Exim Bank — which had provided a loan to Ri-Yaz — had later suggested that Yayasan Akalbudi withdraw its RM8.6 million investment in the company.

“Therefore, the withdrawal had happened, where all investment money was returned to Yayasan Akalbudi and that money was credited back into Lewis & Co to be banked in back to the client account for Yayasan Akalbudi,” he added.

However, Ri-Yaz Group managing director Datuk Mohammad Shaheen Shah Mohd Sidek, who was the 84th prosecution witness in this case, previously expressly expressed shock that the company was asked to return the “deposit” of over RM8.3 million after the share purchase deal collapsed.

(Ri-Yaz Assets had received over RM8.6 million via a Lewis & Co cheque, but the actual amount paid to Ri-Yaz Assets was over RM8.3 million with the remaining sum of over RM250,000 returned due to currency exchange rates for the transaction).

Shaheen previously confirmed in court that the issue of getting a loan or investment from a foundation was never raised in meetings about the planned share purchase deal and that there were no discussions about Nurulhidayah to act as a representative or proxy.

When it was suggested that the Ri-Yaz share purchase was meant to be an investment by Yayasan Akalbudi and that Nurulhidayah was placed as a Ri-Yaz director to monitor Yayasan Akalbudi’s investment in the company, Shaheen told the court that he did not know about these.

Abdul Rashid, who was the 83rd prosecution witness, previously also testified in court that the term “investment” was never mentioned in the sale and purchase agreement for the share purchase deal and that it was never discussed to be an investment by a foundation.

Abdul Rashid also previously said the agreement named Nurulhidayah as a share purchase and did not mention her role to be that of a “proxy”, and had also told the court that he had no knowledge of Nurulhidayah purportedly being a nominee to monitor Yayasan Akalbudi’s purported investment.

In this trial, Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges involving RM21.25 million.

One of the 12 criminal breach of trust charges involves Ahmad Zahid allegedly having transferred Yayasan Akalbudi’s RM17.9 million to Lewis & Co.

Before Lewis & Co had placed the RM17.9 million received from Yayasan Akalbudi into fixed deposits, almost half of the funds or around RM8.6 million were initially used for the purchase of shares in the hotel company, before it was returned to the law firm after the deal fell through and then only placed into fixed deposits.

The prosecution had previously suggested that the actual purpose for the RM17.9 million transfer to Lewis & Co was to facilitate the share purchase deal, having highlighted that the RM17.9 million transfer was on June 28, 2016, while the law firm had issued the RM8.6 million cheque to the hotel company on June 30, 2016.

The prosecution had also questioned how the RM8.6 million share purchase deal in the hotel firm would fit in with Yayasan Akalbudi’s stated aim of eradicating poverty and enhancing the welfare of the poor.

Ahmad Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had previously argued that the RM8.6 million hotel share purchase deal was not related to the criminal breach of trust charge involving the RM17.9 million sum, as the charge did not mention the deal.

The other criminal breach of trust charges in relation to the alleged misappropriation of Yayasan Akalbudi funds are regarding RM1.3 million via 43 cheques for Ahmad Zahid and his wife’s credit card bills, RM107,509.55 via three cheques for vehicle insurance and road tax for 20 privately-owned vehicles, a RM1.3 million cheque to the police’s football association, a RM10 million cheque for a loan to Armada Holdings Sdn Bhd, and RM360,000 via two cheques to political consultancy firm TS Consultancy & Resources.

The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes September 19.