KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said he has to follow the written objectives of Yayasan Akalbudi from its company constitution and indicated he could not use the charity’s money as he pleases.
Ahmad Zahid said this while testifying in his own defence in a trial involving 47 charges, including 12 charges of alleged criminal breach of trust over RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds.
Yayasan Akalbudi is a charitable foundation established with the stated aim of eradicating poverty and helping the poor, with its trustee and sole signatory for cheques being Ahmad Zahid.
Asked by his lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh whether he was “free” to use Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds “at your own will”, Ahmad Zahid replied: “Yang Arif, not free.”
Asked by Hamidi on what he was bound to, Ahmad Zahid said he was “bound to the objectives which is in clause three in the memorandum and articles of association and the additional clause when Yayasan Budi was changed to Yayasan Akalbudi and the company secretary added additional objectives to the existing clause three in the old memorandum and articles of association”.
In other words, Ahmad Zahid was saying that the use of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds was limited to its company constitution which contained the organisation’s objectives.
The charity was previously known as Yayasan Budi before it was renamed to Yayasan Akalbudi and new objectives were added on to its company constitution.
Throughout the trial, Ahmad Zahid insisted that the law firm Lewis & Co held money in trust for Yayasan Akalbudi in the law firm’s client account, but the prosecution has accused him of money laundering by having alleged illegal funds placed into fixed deposits via Lewis & Co.
Later when asked to clarify whether he had not objected to Lewis & Co transferring funds to fixed deposits due to his personal interests, Ahmad Zahid disagreed.
Ahmad Zahid denied he had any conflict of interest or personal interest over Yayasan Akalbudi.
“I don’t agree because Lewis & Co holds the trust for that client’s account and certainly all funds deposited whether in current account or fixed deposits or time deposits is according to laws applicable to any law firms to ensure the interest of the client account, which in this case is Yayasan Akalbudi.
“Therefore, certainly it is not that there is my personal interest in Yayasan Akalbudi, what more ordering Lewis & co to make any payments for my personal interest. Because I know although Yayasan Akalbudi was initiated by me, but I’m fully bound by the memorandum and articles of association for the formation of Yayasan Akalbudi, and I follow it fully without any conflict of interest or my personal interests,” he said.
Hamidi: So, the answer is you don’t agree because it’s not for your personal interests?
Ahmad Zahid: Exactly.
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.
The 12 counts of criminal breach of trust is in relation to the alleged misappropriation of Yayasan Akalbudi funds, namely RM1.3 million via 43 cheques for his 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, RM360,000 via two cheques to political consultancy firm TS Consultancy & Resources, and over RM17.9 million of funds transferred from Yayasan Akalbudi to law firm Lewis & Co.
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah is scheduled to resume on September 19.