Zahid says too busy with national duties to ask banks for card statements, confirms personal spending was from official trips abroad
KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the High Court today he had not personally asked his banks to let him view the monthly statements for his credit cards as he was too busy with his work for the country.
Ahmad Zahid said this while testifying in his own defence in his trial over alleged criminal breach of trust over more than RM31 million of charity Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, including about RM1.3 million allegedly used for his and his wife’s credit cards’ bills.
Again blaming his former executive secretary Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly for using Yayasan Akalbudi cheques to pay his and his wife’s credit card bills instead of using his personal cheques, Ahmad Zahid also insisted that she had failed to show him the monthly credit card statements as requested.
Cross-examined by lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, Ahmad Zahid agreed that it is his responsibility as the principal credit card holder to pay for the credit cards and to ensure that they were paid.
Affirming that he had previously claimed that his former executive secretary Mazlina had never shown him the credit card statements that were sent every month, Ahmad Zahid confirmed that he did not contact the banks to seek the credit card statements.
Raja Rozela: If it is true that Major Mazlina did not show the credit card statements, there’s no obstacle for you to get the credit card statements.
Ahmad Zahid: Usually I ask Major Mazlina who receives it how much is the debit or credit balance for all those credit cards, I never contacted the bank.
Raja Rozela: There is no obstacle for you to contact the bank.
Ahmad Zahid: I’m too busy with national matters so I left it to a trusted person, but it was not carried out correctly.
“There was no obstacle but I have no time because of national duties,” he later added.
Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex in this August 25, 2020 file picture. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Shown credit card statements from December 2013 to January 2016 today, Ahmad Zahid confirmed that all the expenditures using the credit card were for “personal spending” and also confirmed that all the spending on the overseas trips recorded in credit card statements were for “official visits” abroad.
Raja Rozela: From all the credit card statements that you were referred to just now, can you state whether they were used during official trips or personal trips?
Ahmad Zahid: Official trips, official visits.
Raja Rozela: All of them?
Ahmad Zahid: All of them.
Based on details in the credit card statements that Ahmad Zahid verified in court today, the spending was recorded overseas nearly every month, such as in London and Manchester in December 2013, Australia in February, March, April, May 2014, Hong Kong (April 2014), Vietnam (May 2014), Dubai (July 2014), Ukraine and UK (August 2014), US (September 2014), London and Taipei (October 2014), Milan in Italy and France (November 2014), Jakarta, Abu Dhabi and Dubai (December 2014).
He also verified credit card statements for spendings recorded in Dubai (January 2015), Abu Dhabi (April 2015), Korea and New York (May 2015), New York (June and July 2015), Jakarta (September 2015), US (October 2015), London (November 2015), Rome and Dubai (December 2015), and Korea (January 2016).
Ahmad Zahid was home minister from 2013 to 2018, and had also been announced in late July 2015 to be the deputy prime minister, a post which he also held until 2018.
For such official trips abroad and for official events attended as a minister, Ahmad Zahid said officers who may accompany him include his principal private secretary, his private secretary, his political secretary, special officers and security officers from the police, while confirming that he would also be accompanied by officers in carrying out duties nationwide.
Confirming he is aware that there are many transactions carried out using the credit cards for each month for each of the trips and agreeing that he cares about the payment of the credit cards, Ahmad Zahid also said he has enough funds in his account.
Asked if he had not felt curious or doubtful about what is the actual amount he has to pay each month if it was true that Mazlina had not shown the credit card statements to him as requested, Ahmad Zahid claimed that Mazlina had always told him there are such statements when he asked for it but that she had allegedly never shown it to him.
He also claimed to have trusted her: “I baik sangka towards her (gave her the benefit of doubt), so I trusted her to pay for all personal expenses including electricity bills and water bills through my personal cheques.”
Asked if he would not want to know how much he actually owed the banks for his personal credit card spending, Ahmad Zahid then said: “Yang Arif, each of the payment or purchases would have receipts, I have the receipts and I know how much I need to pay. My instructions since the beginning was to use my personal cheques, I know my personal account is sufficient to pay the credit cards.”
When Raja Rozela pointed out that there were many officers who accompanied him whether he was in Malaysia or abroad and that there would be no obstacles for them to help him get the credit card statements from the bank, Ahmad Zahid said: “I never ordered other people to get bank statements, what more when those bank statements are my personal right.”
Raja Rozela: You never ordered, but can you do it or not?
Ahmad Zahid: I never ordered them. Can if I ask, but I never asked, so therefore cannot.
Ahmad Zahid confirmed that Mazlina was handling his personal financial matters as instructed by him, but stressed that she was also tasked with handling both his personal account and Yayasan Akalbudi’s account.
He also confirmed that throughout the time when Mazlina made the payments for his credit card bills, the credit cards held by him as the principal card holder and his wife as the supplementary card holder could be used without problem and without any instances of being blocked.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― 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.
Ahmad Zahid is a trustee and had later became the sole signatory of cheques for Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation formed with the aim of eradicating poverty and helping the poor.
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.
Ahmad Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.