KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 23): Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia youth wing's former assistant treasurer Rafiq Hakim Razali told the High Court on Tuesday (Aug 23) that the RM1 million central to the criminal breach of trust (CBT) charge former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman faces in his ongoing trial was the largest withdrawal from the party's account at the time.
During re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Rafiq added that he felt he had committed breach of trust because there weren't proper checks and balances for the withdrawal of the sum.
Wan Shaharuddin: Is [the RM1 million] a big sum?
Rafiq: It is the largest withdrawal from [Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia youth wing] Armada's [account]. I am the account's trustee and the [withdrawal] had no working paper. So I felt like I committed breach of trust but I wouldn't do so without instructions.
Asked why he felt as if he had committed an offence, the prosecution's 13th witness said that he withdrew the money without informing the right party authorities and without proper checks and balances.
Wan Shaharuddin: Why didn't you make any police report?
Rafiq: I was worried that the matter would be discovered.
On the CBT charge, the Muar parliamentarian (MP) is charged with abetting Rafiq in committing CBT involving RM1 million of funds belonging to the party in March 2020.
During his testimony, Rafiq has maintained that he acted under Syed Saddiq's instructions to withdraw and later distribute the money.
The defence has contended that the specific amount was not communicated to Rafiq and furthermore, the money was used for party programmes — related to Covid assistance, Ramadan and Hari Raya — which was decided collectively by the party's central leadership.
Earlier during cross-examination by lead defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Rafiq agreed that there was no need for a working paper in this instance as the money was used on an ad hoc basis (as whenever there was a need for it). As per party policy, the expenditure would later be presented to the wider party leadership.
Gobind: The normal practice [is the central leadership] will make the decision on how the money will be used.
Rafiq: Correct and there needs to be a working paper as well.
Gobind: There is no need for working paper for [money] used [for] Covid [because] it is used as and when [the need arises].
Rafiq: There should be a working paper but we at that time we removed [the need for it].
Rafiq also agreed with Gobind that expenditures spent in April 2020 also did not have working papers and that all the money was used for the abovementioned party programmes.
Rafiq on Tuesday also testified that he was not incited by the Muar MP to withdraw the money.
Gobind: Syed Saddiq at any time did not incite (menghasut) you to withdraw the money?
Rafiq: Incite, no.
Gobind: [He] did not conspire (berpakat jahat) with you to remove [the RM]1 million from the account.
Rafiq: Conspire no, but give instructions, yes.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid in a brief ruling dismissed the defence's application requesting Rafiq's Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) statement.
The defence made the application following some contradictory statements by Rafiq.
If found guilty of the CBT charge which is framed under Section 406 of the Penal Code, Syed Saddiq could be jailed for up to 10 years, whipped and fined.
As for the second charge, the MP is charged under Section 403 of the Penal Code with misusing RM120,000 in party contributions, raised through a Maybank Islamic Bhd account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise (ABBE) in April 2018.
He could be jailed up to five years, whipped and fined if convicted.
In addition, he faces two charges of engaging in money laundering activities involving two transactions of RM50,000 each — money believed to be proceeds of unlawful activities — via his Maybank Islamic account and his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account on June 16 and 19, 2018.
The latter two charges were framed under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which are punishable under Section 4(1) of the same Act, with a maximum jail term of 15 years, and a fine of not less than five times the amount involved.
The trial continues on Sept 27.