Zahid's trial: Judge visits two Country Heights houses bought using charity's RM5.9m and converted for Islamic studies

·4-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KAJANG, Aug 1 — High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah began his official visit to two “bungalows” in the prestigious gated and guarded Country Heights neighbourhood here as part of court proceedings in Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial just before 11am today.

The former deputy prime minister has been charged with criminal breach of trust over RM31 million belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi and the two houses were purchased in 2017 using RM5.9 million from the charity organisation’s funds.

The tour, led by Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers, started with a single-storey building at Lot 403-2A, Lorong Bayu Nyaman.

There was a signboard and on it the words “Yayasan Al-Falah” and “Persatuan Tarekat Malaysia” on the building.

Rooms inside the building were similarly marked; Yayasan Al-Falah’s office and rooms labelled with names such as “Hasan” and “Ali” surrounding a square courtyard. There was also a small hall labelled “surau”.

During the visit to the air-conditioned and carpeted “surau” lined with shelves of Islamic books and which also featured green latticed screens bearing the words “Yayasan Al Falah 2019”, a religious class given by an Islamic preacher was underway.

Ahmad Zahid previously told the court that this building was meant for Islamic studies for retirees.

A general view of the Yayasan Al-Falah building at Country Heights in Kajang August 1, 2022.
A general view of the Yayasan Al-Falah building at Country Heights in Kajang August 1, 2022.

A general view of the Yayasan Al-Falah building at Country Heights in Kajang August 1, 2022.

This “Yayasan Al-Falah” building at Lot 403 is said to be between 100 and 200 metres to Surau An-Nur in Country Heights. It took about 50 to 70 paces (depending on the length of one’s legs) to walk between the two buildings.

The second single-storey house that was part of the court tour — Lot 356 along Jalan Bayu Nyaman — was directly across Surau An-Nur, located at a T-junction or about 10 paces away.

This building, purchased in 2017 at RM3 million, bore the name “Madrasah Tahfiz Alfalah”.

During the judge’s visit to this building, another lesson appeared to be underway. The group of supervised young boys in an airconditioned and carpeted area that appeared to be the main hall were said to be tahfiz students memorising the Al-Quran and hadiths.

High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah (centre) is seen here in the building labelled
High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah (centre) is seen here in the building labelled

High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah (centre) is seen here in the building labelled "Madrasah Tahfiz Alfalah" while being given an official tour of the two Country Heights houses in Kajang August 1, 2022.

The second building also featured dormitories with double-decker beds, as well as an eating space.

The judge’s visit of the two buildings ended at around 11.25am.

Previously on July 6, Ahmad Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had invited the judge to make a site inspection of the two houses, since they were part of the charges in the trial. The judge had agreed to the request in the interests of justice.

Apart from Hisyam, Ahmad Zahid’s other lawyers such as Hamidi Mohd Noh and Datuk Zaidi Ahmad Zainal were also present. Also present at the court visit were deputy public prosecutors Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong and Abdul Malik Ayob.

Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

Seen here at Yayasan Al-Falah, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.
Seen here at Yayasan Al-Falah, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

Seen here at Yayasan Al-Falah, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

One of the 27 money-laundering charges that Ahmad Zahid is facing alleges that he had engaged directly in a transaction that involves proceeds of unlawful activity, by giving instruction to buy the two “bungalow lots” for RM5.9 million using a cheque issued by the law firm Lewis & Co via a client account at Maybank, with the funds said to be illegal proceeds.

Throughout the trial, Ahmad Zahid and his lawyers have insisted that Lewis & Co is a trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi and holds funds on trust for it in a client account.

Ahmad Zahid had previously defended the use of Yayasan Akalbudi’s money to buy the two houses, claiming that these two properties were given as a donation to his younger brother Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi’s Yayasan Al-Falah. Ahmad Zahid had claimed that they were converted into centres for Islamic studies for the public’s use, and denied that they were for his own use.

Ahmad Zahid had said the two properties — which he described as “bungalow lots” — were bought below the market price, with the smaller lot of Lot 403 measuring 1,787 square feet purchased at RM2.9 million, while the bigger lot of Lot 356 at 1,872 square feet was purchased at RM3 million.

Ahmad Zahid’s trial resumes in the courtroom on August 5, with the prosecution expected to cross-examine him on the corruption charges that he is facing.