Monday 15 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 24): The High Court on Monday (Jan 24) ordered Umno president and former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to enter his defence for all 47 charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and corruption against him.

Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, in delivering his verdict, said that he found a prima facie case against Zahid on all 47 charges.

Justice Sequerah then gave Zahid and his legal team three options — namely to testify under oath from the witness stand, where he can be cross-examined by prosecutors; give his unsworn testimony from the witness stand, where he cannot be cross-examined; or choose to remain silent.

Senior counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, representing Zahid, told the court that the accused chooses to testify under oath from the witness stand.

While reading out his brief decision, Justice Sequerah said that Zahid's claim that he should get immunity from 46 of the 47 charges had no merit. 

Zahid, through his lawyers, had claimed immunity from the charges because he complied with and answered the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) questions truthfully during the course of its investigation into the case.

The judge first outlined the 12 CBT charges under Section 409 of the Penal Code.

“I find that the prosecution has proven the ingredients of all 12 charges under Section 409 [of the Penal Code] and made out a prima facie case against all 12 charges. I call upon the accused to enter his defence for all 12 charges,” he added.

He also said the same for the eight corruption charges under Section 16(a)(B) of the MACC Act 2009 and the 27 money-laundering charges.

Hamidi Mohd Noh, another lawyer for Zahid, told Justice Sequerah that his client chooses to give a sworn statement on the witness stand, meaning that Zahid will be the first witness in his defence and subjected to cross-examination from the prosecution.

The Umno president’s 12 charges for CBT, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering involve tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation he leads.

The submissions at the end of the prosecution's case began sometime in September last year, and took 24 days before completion on Dec 6.

A total of 99 prosecution witnesses testified in the trial that began on Nov 18, 2019, with the prosecution's opening statement by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who is also the deputy head II of the prosecution division of the Attorney-General's Chambers.

After reading his statement, Raja Rozela informed the court that the prosecution was offering 37 potential witnesses to Zahid’s defence team should they need them to testify in his defence.

Hisyam of the defence then said that they will need time to interview the witnesses before deciding who should testify in the trial.

He added that they will call 20 of the 37 witnesses offered.

Justice Sequerah then set April 26 for the beginning of Zahid’s defence where he will take the stand.

The trial dates are as follows: April 26 to 28; May 23 to 26; June 27 to 30; July 4 to 7; Aug 22 and 23 as well as 29 and 30; Sept 19 to 22 as well as 26 to 29; Oct 17 to 20 as well as 31; and Nov 1 to 3 as well as 7 to 10.

Speaking to the media afterwards at the Jalan Duta court complex here, Zahid said that he will abide by the decision of the court.

For the CBT charges, Zahid is alleged to have used the funds to make six payments for his personal credit card usage, insurance policy and licences for his personal vehicles, remittances to a law firm and contributions to the Royal Malaysia Police Football Association.

The offences were allegedly committed at an Affin Bank Bhd branch in Jalan Bunus, off Jalan Masjid India here between Jan 13, 2014 and Dec 23, 2016.

The charges, under Section 409 of the Penal Code, provide for a jail term of between two and 20 years, and whipping and a fine, upon conviction.

Zahid is also charged with eight counts of bribery, where he is alleged to have accepted bribes from three companies, namely Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services, Data Sonic Group Bhd and Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd, as an inducement for him in his capacity as the home minister then to help the companies to obtain MyEG projects, supply passport chips and to be appointed as the operator of the migrant visa one-stop centres in Pakistan and Nepal respectively.

He is charged with committing the offences, framed under Section 16(a)(B) of the MACC Act, at the Maybank branch at Dataran Maybank in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar here between July 15, 2016 and March 15, 2018.

The Bagan Datuk Member of Parliament also faces 27 charges of money laundering by engaging in direct transactions involving income from illegal activities between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.

All the offences were allegedly committed at the Maybank branch, Dataran Maybank, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar here and Marhaba Enterprise Sdn Bhd in Jalan Bukit Bintang here between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.

Zahid is also facing a separate criminal trial in the Shah Alam Sessions Court for bribery, in which he faces 40 charges. The case is slated to begin on Feb 3.

Edited ByLam Jian Wyn
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