Foundation’s money used to pay for Zahid, wife’s shopping spree around the world, court told

(NST) – Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his wife had gone on shopping sprees at luxury stores like Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Hermes before using his charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds to settle the credit card bills, the High Court heard today.

Based on Zahid’s credit card statements, the total amount used to pay for his AmBank cards amounted to RM534,412.52 in 2014, RM708, 134.47 in 2015 and RM54,168.99 for just one month in January 2016.

The other payments included RM30,771.19 (between Feb and Oct 2014), RM3,914.84 (March 2015) and another RM30,635.80 (July 2015) for his Maybank cards.

Lead prosecutor in Zahid’s corruption trial, Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, said the Umno president’s monthly bank statements showed an extensive use of the cards for purchases at high end stores around the world and locally.

Although the spending habits of the accused and his wife may not be an issue in our case, one cannot help but wonder if they had the poor folks in Malaysia on their mind as they went on shopping sprees at Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton or Hermes stores just to name a few.

“We very much doubt that,” she said.

Raja Rozela said this in her submission at the end of the prosecution’s case against Zahid, who is facing 47 charges of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

He faces a maximum of 20-years jail and fine if convicted.

The Deputy Public Prosecutor said all payments did not come from Zahid’s own pockets but were drawn from Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

She said Zahid had gained dominion over the foundation’s assets and proceeded to treat its monies as if it was his own, eventually misappropriating over RM31 million of its funds.

“He used the money to pay for his credit cards, purchase of motor insurance policies and road tax of 20 privately owned vehicles, payment to a consultancy company, a police football club and a loan to Armada Holdings, a company supplying coal fuel to Tenaga Nasional Bhd.”

On the usage of funds to purchase motor insurance policies and road tax for the 20 vehicles, Raja Rozela said RM107,509.55 of Yayasan Akalbudi funds had been used for this purpose.

She said none of the vehicles belonged to the foundation and the registered owners were none other than the accused and his wife, Datin Seri Hamidah Khamis.

Raja Rozela said Zahid had also used RM360,000 of the foundation funds to pay consultancy firm TS Consultancy & Resources, which was set up to provide training and motivation courses but in reality was a political arm of Barisan Nasional established to assist the party in the registration of voters in certain areas.

On the RM10 million loan to Armada Holdings, Raja Rozela said Zahid had given the money to the company with an agreement that it should be repaid to him within a month with interest.

“The accused was entrusted with Yayasan Akalbudi funds for a specific purpose and this was for the eradication of poverty and the enhancement of the welfare of the poor.

“However, by no stretch of the imagination can it be said that the usage of the funds was for the benefit of the poor.

“Gifting or lending money to a businessman, a football team and a political consultancy firm can hardly be counted as charity to eradicate poverty.

“It goes without saying that the credit card payments only benefited the accused and his wife,” she said when submitting before High Court Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.