Prosecution: Zahid was ‘puppet master’ of Yayasan Akalbudi’s board

(MMO) – Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had complete control over Yayasan Akalbudi and its board of trustees that had his alleged “puppets” as members, and was ultimately able to control and use the charitable foundation’s funds for his own benefit, the prosecution argued in the High Court today.

The prosecution was explaining to the High Court how it had proven sufficient evidence in 12 criminal breach of trust charges against Ahmad Zahid in relation to the funds of Yayasan Akalbudi.

Yayasan Akalbudi is a foundation aimed at eradicating poverty and enhancing the welfare of the poor. It is registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, with Ahmad Zahid being a trustee as well as subsequently the sole authorised person who could sign on the foundation’s cheques.

In this trial, the prosecution is arguing that Ahmad Zahid had committed criminal breach of trust through the alleged dishonest misappropriation of RM31 million belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi for his own purposes. These included paying personal credit card bills through the use of multiple Yayasan Akalbudi cheques, vehicle insurance and road tax for personal vehicles, and giving out a loan and making contributions to a football club.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran yesterday highlighted examples that showed Ahmad Zahid allegedly having control over Yayasan Akalbudi and its board of trustees, including former trustee Mohd Samsuri Tun having signed blank cheques at his instructions and former trustee Zulkifli Senteri testifying that he was asked to leave the board without any reasons given.

Raja Rozela had yesterday also highlighted that two new trustees — Muhammad Nabil Salleh and Datuk Khairuddin Tarmizi who were brought in as replacements — were literally Ahmad Zahid’s “subordinates”, referring to their positions in Umno’s Bagan Datuk division and Nabil’s position as special officer to the Bagan Datuk MP (namely Ahmad Zahid).

Today, Raja Rozela went on further to show how Ahmad Zahid had control over Yayasan Akalbudi, referring to the type of questions and line of questioning used by the defence on those who were trustees in the foundation.

As an example, she highlighted how Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers had asked Khairuddin whether Yayasan Akalbudi was actually “owned” by Ahmad Zahid, and Khairuddin’s full agreement to this suggestion by the lawyers.

Raja Rozela said all the trustees of Yayaan Akalbudi were asked questions along the same line by Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers, such as being where they did not make a single contribution to Yayasan Akalbudi and the foundation’s funding comes from Ahmad Zahid and therefore he could do anything.Raja Rozela said this showed what Ahmad Zahid allegedly believed, suggesting that he thought that the foundation was his.

“So here we have the example to show that the accused had that frame of mind — that he was in control, Yayasan Akalbudi was basically his, just because he was the main funder or major contributor of Yayasan Akalbudi.

‘Puppets on a string’

Taking all the five examples that she had highlighted, Raja Rozela said that the evidence demonstrates that Ahmad Zahid had dominion or control not only over Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, but also had “complete control” of the foundation’s board of trustees.

“He had a board of trustees who were mere puppets. They were mere puppets on a string. It is as if Samsuri, Prof Zulkifli, Encik Nabil, Datuk Khairuddin were appointed merely to make up the numbers in the board of trustees.

“We want Your Lordship to see that the accused has had a free hand in the running of the board’s affairs. And this occurred long before the trustees’ circular resolution that gave him the authorised signatory,” she said, referring to the April 4, 2012 resolution signed by the two new trustees that had made Ahmad Zahid the only authorised person who could sign on Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques.

“So therefore, I humbly submit that Your Lordship can make a positive finding based on this evidence on the direct and circumstantial evidence, that the accused was in fact in control of the board, and when a person controls the board members, therefore he gets to control the entire Yayasan Akalbudi,” she said.

Raja Rozela argued that this meant Ahmad Zahid was able to use Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds as he wished.

“Being the controlling mind behind Yayasan Akalbudi and on top of that, as the sole authorised signatory of Akalbudi cheques, the accused was in a position to make use of the trust funds, according to his whims and fancies.

“He had the ability to dictate the inflow and outflow of Akalbudi funds, and it is our contention that he had in fact exercised that dominion when he dishonestly misappropriated Akalbudi funds for his personal gain,” she said.

In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is also a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.

Raja Rozela is expected to present further arguments tomorrow to show why Ahmad Zahid should be called to enter his defence over the 12 criminal breach of trust charges.