KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s lawyer has consistently argued in the High Court that the former deputy prime minister should not be on trial for misappropriating or misusing funds belonging to charity organisation Yayasan Akalbudi.
Today, the defence lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh went one step further and pointedly alleged that Ahmad Zahid’s former executive secretary Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly is the “culprit” and argued that his client is in the dock because of her purported negligence.
Hamidi rejected the argument that the defence was trying to make Mazlina the “scapegoat” for Ahmad Zahid’s alleged dishonest misappropriation or misuse of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds for personal purposes such as using RM1.3 million for his and his wife’s credit card bills.
“Mazlina is not a scapegoat, Yang Arif. She is the culprit.
“She is the cause of these charges against my client. Her negligence, which we have proven and which she has admitted, is the cause of these charges against my client.
“We are not telling the world she is a scapegoat,” Hamidi said, rhetorically asking why he would want to make Mazlina a scapegoat as he insisted that she was allegedly the “culprit”.
“She is the reason he is here,” he said, referring to Ahmad Zahid who was sitting in the dock.
This is not the first time that Hamidi has put the blame on Mazlina over the alleged misuse of funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
Hamidi had previously in a September 7 court hearing tried to put the blame on Mazlina by claiming that she had stamped Ahmad Zahid’s signature onto Yayasan Akalbudi cheques — to pay for his and his wife’s credit card bills — without his approval or knowledge.
Hamidi had also on September 8 denied trying to make Mazlina a “scapegoat”, but continued to insist that it was her who had allegedly made the “mistake” of using Yayasan Akalbudi cheques instead of Ahmad Zahid’s personal cheque book for the credit card payments.
Yayasan Akalbudi is a foundation aimed at eradicating poverty and enhancing the welfare of the poor. It is registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, with Ahmad Zahid being a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi as well as subsequently from June 2013 onwards the sole authorised person who could sign on the foundation’s cheques.
The prosecution had in its written submissions at the close of prosecution’s case previously stated: “The defence would have us believe that the accused was totally oblivious about the use of the Akalbudi cheques, and in turn, pointed the finger of blame at the secretary. In fact, the prosecution would go as far as to submit that the accused was determined to make Major Mazlina a scapegoat for his own mess.”
Last month, lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran had also argued that there was instead plenty of evidence to show that Ahmad Zahid was the one who consented to the use of Yayasan Akalbudi cheques and that he allegedly knew from day one of such use.
Raja Rozela had also argued against turning Mazlina into a scapegoat and said Ahmad Zahid should be held responsible, saying: “We say that he should take responsibility for the acts of his secretary. And because it is clear from the evidence of the misuse of cheques, misuse of Akalbudi cheques was because, or due to his instruction, due to his permission with his knowledge.”
Hamidi was today presenting the defence’s reply to the prosecution’s submissions in relation to the criminal breach of trust charges that Ahmad Zahid is facing. Today is the third day of the defence’s reply.
Among other things, Hamidi today argued that Mazlina had used Yayasan Akalbudi cheques with Ahmad Zahid’s signature stamped on as she was purportedly negligent, citing instances of when she had underpaid, overpaid or made late payments for the credit card bills of Ahmad Zahid and his wife.
Hamidi also said instances when Mazlina paid the credit card bills earlier than the due date would suggest there was no urgency to use the stamped cheques, while also stressing that Mazlina had previously in court agreed that it was her presumption that Ahmad Zahid had given her blanket approval to use the stamped cheques for credit card bills.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is also a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.
Ahmad Zahid is accused in this trial of having committed criminal breach of trust involving more than RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, including over RM13 million paid out using 50 cheques — including the 43 cheques for credit card bills.
The RM13 million sum alone is regarding 11 out of the 12 criminal breach of trust charges that Ahmad Zahid is facing in this trial.
The alleged dishonest misappropriation by Ahmad Zahid of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds totalling RM13 million which he were entrusted with are namely the RM1.3 million payment via 43 cheques for personal credit card bills, a RM107,509.55 payment using three cheques for vehicle insurance and road tax for privately-owned vehicles, a RM1.3 million cheque to the police’s football association, a RM10 million loan given out via a cheque to company Armada Holdings Sdn Bhd and a RM360,000 payment via two cheques to political consultancy firm TS Consultancy & Resources which helped register voters.
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah is scheduled to resume on November 29, with Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers expected to continue presenting their replies to the prosecution’s submissions.
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