Brother-in-law of ex-Home Minister took money, court told

(Bernama) – A witness in the corruption trial of former Immigration director-general Datuk Wahid Md Don today claimed that a brother-in-law of a former home minister received money from him to expedite approval of calling visas for foreign workers.

Burugabudeen Mohamed Ismail, 50, said the payments were made in cash and deposited into the account of a man known as Syed Abdullah in 2008.

“I had dealings with him. The payments to Syed Abdullah ranged from RM180 to RM280,” he said during cross-examination by lawyer Datuk V. Sithambaram, who is acting for Wahid.

Sithambaram: Did you mention this in your statement to the Anti-Corruption Agency?

Burugabudeen: Yes, and they verified this to be true.

Sithambaram: Syed Abdullah–where did you meet him?

Burugabudeen: At my office.

Sithambaram: How many workers you could approve with Syed Abdullah?

Burugabudeen: Around 200 because the time we knew each was very short.

On Aug 19 last year, Wahid, 56, was charged in the Sessions Court here with receiving RM60,000 from businessman Datuk Low Chang Hian to speed up the approval of visas for 4,337 Bangladeshi workers.

Earlier, Burugabudeen, a broker, had said the calling visa dealings were done before June 12, 2008, and that the payments ranging from RM180 to RM280 were for Syed Abdullah as service tax.

Asked if Syed Abdullah had told him if the money was for a political fund, Burugabudeen said: “Not directly, but he did say that others would be receiving cuts.”

During the proceedings, Burugabudeen admitted that he had been detained by ACA officers while dealing with Mohamad Hasnan Hassan (the complainant) regarding the same matter (calling visas) but was released after being remanded for five days on suspicion of corruption.

Detained along with him was his friend Abdul Jabbar Abdullah, 49, also a broker, and Abdul Jabbar’s wife, Rusalwati Husin, 31.

He told the court that a charge of RM350 was imposed to process the visas and that he would set aside from this RM50 for a political fund but did not know who was involved.

Burugabudeen also said that while under ACA detention, he was asked about the immigration and home ministry officers he dealt with to process the visas and if there was a third party involved besides officials from the two entities or whether he had hacked into the system used for processing the visas.

He was calm throughout.

He told the court he never had any dealings with Wahid but knew the Immigration director-general then was Wahid.

At the start of today’s proceedings, Judge Rosbiahanin Arifin allowed an application by Sithambaram to not use certain evidence from Burugabudeen on Abdul Jabbar as Abdul Jabbar died in May last year, on the grounds that the evidence would be tantamount to hearsay.

Deputy public prosecutors Nik Azrin Zairin Nik Abdullah and Ahmad Kamal Ariffin Ismail are appearing for the prosecution.

The hearing was adjourned to March 17.