Zahid to find out on Monday (Jan 24) if he needs to enter his defence in Yayasan Akalbudi trial

(The Star) – Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will find out next Monday (Jan 24) whether he has to enter his defence on 47 corruption charges involving millions of ringgit from his charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB).

High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah is set to deliver his decision in the case on Monday morning.

If the judge finds the prosecution has successfully proven a prima facie case against the accused, Ahmad Zahid would be ordered to enter his defence.

In the case that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case, the judge could order the Umno president to be acquitted and he would walk out a free man.

An accused who is ordered to enter his defence has three options; keep silent and not answer to the charges, give an unsworn statement from the dock without being cross-examined by the prosecution, or testify under oath on the witness stand with the prosecution given the opportunity to question the accused during cross-examination.

The prosecution team is led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran while Ahmad Zahid’s defence team is led by lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik.

The trial began on Nov 18, 2019, and saw 99 prosecution witnesses taking the stand.

The hearing for submissions began on Sept 6, 2021 and lasted 24 days.

During the submissions, the court heard from the defence that Ahmad Zahid should have been immune from prosecution for truthfully disclosing all information on transactions involving YAB.

In his submissions, Hisyam said Ahmad Zahid made two statements on July 2, 2018, (marked as D35) and on July 3, 2018, (marked as D36) pursuant to Section 30(3)(b) of the MACC Act.

Through the two statements, Hisyam contended that his client had disclosed information and therefore under Section 30(7) of the MACC Act, Ahmad Zahid was “clothed with immunity” from prosecution.

Under Section 30 (7), it was stated that any person who disclosed any information to the MACC should not be prosecuted unless he makes a false or misleading statement.

The defence also contended that four important witnesses against Ahmad Zahid testified for the prosecution in court but none of them said the money was corruptly given to YAB.

Meanwhile, the prosecution had argued that Ahmad Zahid was not entitled to immunity as his defence claimed he should have, which the prosecution said was a “literal interpretation” to the law provision.

DPP Raja Rozela submitted that Section 30(7) was not a provision that provided for immunity but rather, it gave discretion for the public prosecutor to exempt a person who assisted in investigations from being prosecuted.

The prosecution also submitted that in most corruption cases involving politicians, the giver of the money would rarely admit that the money given was a bribe.

Ahmad Zahid, 69, was facing 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges, eight counts of bribery charges and 27 for money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

For the 12 CBT charges, Ahmad Zahid was accused to have used the funds to make six payments for his personal credit cards usage, insurance policy and licence for his personal vehicles, remittances to a law firm and contributions to the Royal Malaysia Police football association.

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

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

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

He allegedly committed the offences at the Maybank branch at Dataran Maybank in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, between July 15, 2016, and March 15, 2018.

The charges were under Section 16(a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 which carried a fine up to five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, and imprisonment not exceeding 20 years.

Ahmad Zahid also faced 27 charges of money-laundering by engaging in direct transactions involving income from illegal activities.

All the money laundering offences were allegedly committed at Malayan Banking Berhad, Dataran Maybank branch, Level 1, Tower A, No. 1 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar and Marhaba Enterprise Sdn Bhd, LG 1.15, Fahrenheit88, 179 Jalan Bukit Bintang, near here between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.