I gave RM10mil to Zahid’s foundation upon ‘request’, says S’pore businessman

(FMT) – A Singaporean businessman told authorities he “donated” a sum of RM10 million to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s foundation in 2016 after the former deputy prime minister made a “request” to him, the High Court heard today.

Wong Sang Woo @ Wong Shuh Chain told the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) he first met Zahid at a dinner function in 2015, where Zahid introduced himself as the home minister.

“Datuk Seri (Zahid) asked me if I wanted to help the poor and needy community. As a philanthropist, I agreed to donate to his foundation,” he said in his statement to the anti-graft agency.

The prosecution in Zahid’s corruption trial is seeking to tender Wong’s statement, recorded by MACC officer Christ Sheldon anak Merun on Feb 22, 2019, as the businessman is now regarded as a “missing person”.

In the statement, Wong claimed that at the end of the dinner, Zahid approached him again and suggested a RM10 million donation. Wong said he told Zahid he wanted to consider the proposal as it involved a huge sum.

He said that some time in 2016, he received a call from a person, who claimed he had been “instructed” by Zahid, asking him about the proposed donation to Yayasan Akalbudi.

“The caller said Datuk Seri asked him to explain about charity work done by Yayasan Akalbudi. I believed him as he was able to explain the conversation between me and Datuk Seri at the dinner function.

“The caller then asked me to make the payment to the law firm Lewis & Co,” he said, adding that the firm managed Yayasan Akalbudi.

Because of the amount involved, Wong said he borrowed RM10 million from a friend, Ngu Ngiong Hieng. Ngu, now deceased, was a businessman in Sarawak.

“He always helped me whenever I asked him. I felt this was special because I made contributions to the deputy prime minister’s foundation,” he said.

Wong said the payment was made in the name of his company, Chia Bee Enterprise Sdn Bhd, to Lewis & Co.

He also said the RM10 million donation was not declared to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) as the money would not qualify for tax relief.

“I did not contact Datuk Seri after our meeting at the dinner function. I only knew he became deputy prime minister in 2016,” he added.

Deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong said the prosecution wished to tender Wong’s statement under Section 32(1) of the Evidence Act as MACC could not trace him to testify in Zahid’s trial.

Zahid faces 47 charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving millions from Yayasan Akalbudi, and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister.

The hearing before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.