Zahid cries foul over prosecution harassment, donors tell confident those managing charity funds had pious intentions
KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 – Former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi appeared frustrated during his trial today, complaining that the prosecution was allegedly unfair to him and claimed they were trying to entrap him with questions.
While going through documents such as checks and the ledger of a law firm managing the funds of his charity Yayasan Akalbudi, Ahmad Zahid also suggested that it would be immoral for him to interrogate those entrusted with association funds.
Ahmad Zahid was asked if money changer Omar Ali Abdullah – whom Ahmad Zahid entrusted with collecting or compiling RM7.5 million in alleged cash donations to the law firm’s client account – had physically brought two checks and told him they were donations to charity.
Ahmad Zahid then replied: “Yang Arif, when someone is in charge of crediting donations and the donation is not in my personal name but is a donation to a foundation, the account of the foundation is held by a cabinet of lawyers, and it is clear that the gift has credited, it is not moral to ask who the donor is, whether the money has been deposited or not; for example, with the trust with the monthly statement and ledger displayed. We should trust because I’m sure they all intend to get pahala (divine rewards) as is the case for amal jariah (charity).
“It’s not fair, if the question I was talking about earlier, I also repeatedly ask the same thing that I was asked, being asked repeatedly so that I am trapped. “
Ahmad Zahid confirmed earlier that the monthly bank account statement records matched the transactions recorded in the law firm’s ledger.
Assistant Attorney General Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong then immediately responded by saying, “You are talking about trust and in this court it is for justice, all parties seek justice and you are innocent until proven guilty, so for to obtain justice, all the facts had to be presented. »
Ahmad Zahid’s lead defense attorney, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, stepped in and suggested that this should be left to submissions.
High Court Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah then said he thought Harris was responding to Ahmad Zahid’s comment that he had been asked the same questions repeatedly, but then said the prosecution had made his point and asked them to move on to the next question.
Yesterday, Ahmad Zahid repeatedly stressed the need to “husnuzonor the need to give the benefit of the doubt to donors who have given millions of ringgits allegedly for charitable purposes, suggesting that it would be “funny” to ask donors if the source of their donations came from legal or illegal sources .
Ahmad Zahid and the prosecution later had another brief tussle over words, after they gave elaborate answers without directly answering a question posed.
Lawyer Muralidharan Balan Pillai is pictured in court in Kuala Lumpur on August 13, 2020. — Photo by Hari Anggara
Warning to Ahmad Zahid for evading the question
Later that morning, Harris asked if Ahmad Zahid had stopped Lewis & Co law firm partner Muralidharan Balan Pillai from transferring money to the law firm’s client account – allegedly held in trust for Yayasan Akalbudi – to be placed in fixed deposits.
Ahmad Zahid then said “Yang ArifAs I mentioned earlier, it is the responsibility of any law firm, according to the law, to open fixed deposits to guarantee the interest of the funds held by this law firm.
Harris: This means that you do not have Halang (blocked the the H?
Ahmad Zahid: How do I want to block it, it is allowed for law firms.
Harris: How law firms act depends on the law, but on your side, as a client – although no valid (appointment) letter) – as a client, you have not blocked such action after knowing it had happened?
Ahmad Zahid: Yang Arif, the money is not lost, the same amount was transferred in the form of fixed deposits, I have already said in this court, that the fixed deposit is to obtain profits in the form of interest, the money is not lost. The question of blocking or not is therefore very subjective, because what is done by Muralidharan is in line with the ethics of the law firm that handles the client account. Block, no, I dare not act to block or not, because it is his discretion.
At this point, Harris warned Ahmad Zahid that his conduct could be viewed negatively by the court.
“I wish to inform, when my question is simple, ‘block or not’, your conduct, it is important for the court to know, the answer from your own mouth, we need to know from you, what is your action, that you blocked or not. Your action avoiding my question, the court can take notes, “behaviour” in judicial terms, the court can make remarks that the witness avoids questions when cross-examined. don’t want that to happen, while I’m giving you the chance to respond whether or not you blocked the attorney’s actions,” Harris said.
Ahmad Zahid then replied “Yang Arif, I answer what is true, block or not. How can I block? If you want me to answer ‘yes or no’, I will answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but when I am not asked ‘yes or no’, I give explanations.
Harris: Agree with me, you have not blocked this action, yes or no?
Ahmad Zahid: Yes.
Harris: You did not block, agree with me, because your interest is guaranteed, namely the money was credited, transferred to term deposits, I do not have to worry, everything is guaranteed, why are you not blocking?
Ahmad Zahid: I do not agree, Yang Arifit is not for personal interest, it is for the interests of Yayasan Akalbudi.
Throughout this lawsuit, Ahmad Zahid testified that the checks that were paid into Lewis & Co’s customer account were charitable donations from Yayasan Akalbudi.
Yayasan Akalbudi was established with the stated aim of eradicating poverty and improving the welfare of the poor, and Ahmad Zahid serves as trustee of the foundation and later also its sole signatory for checks.
Later that afternoon, Ahmad Zahid denied that he had simply used Lewis & Co’s client account to help him launder illegal funds.
Ahmad Zahid faces 47 charges, namely 12 counts of breach of trust in relation to the RM31 million of funds from the Yayasan Akalbudi charitable foundation, 27 counts of money laundering and eight counts corruption charges.
Ahmad Zahid’s trial resumes on August 5.