KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24  — The High Court today ordered Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to enter his defence on 47 criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering charges involving Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) funds.

Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah made the ruling after finding that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against Ahmad Zahid, 69, on 12 CBT charges, eight counts of bribery charges and 27 for money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to the foundation, which is owned by Ahmad Zahid.

The court set aside 39 days to hear the defence’s case, the dates being April 26-28, May 23-26,June 27-30, July 4-7, Aug 22, 23, 29,30, Sept 19-22, 26-29, Oct 17-20 and 31, Nov 1-3, 7-10.

The Bagan Datuk Member of Parliament, who served as the deputy prime minister from 2015 to 2018, opted to testify under oath from the witness stand with the prosecution given the opportunity to question the accused during cross-examination.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Barisan Nasional chairman and UMNO president, is scheduled to take the stand on April 26.

 In making the ruling, Sequerah said the prosecution had proven all the ingredients of all the charges and successfully made out a prima facie case against the accused.

“Firstly in respect of the immunity point, after considering submissions by both parties, I find no merit to the contention of immunity,” he said.

Previously, Ahmad Zahid’s lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had submitted to the court that Ahmad Zahid had made two statements on July 2 and 3, 2018, and said by making the disclosure through the two statements, the UMNO president should have immunity from prosecution.

With respect to the 12  CBT charges under Section 409 of the Penal Code, the judge said after conducting a maximum evaluation of the prosecution’s evidence, he found the prosecution had proven the ingredients of all 12 charges and successfully made out a prima facie case against all the 12 charges.

“I, therefore, call upon the accused to enter defence for all 12 charges,” he said.

As for the eight corruption charges under Section 16(a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, the judge similarly found that the prosecution had made out its prima facie case for all eight charges.

“I also find the presumption under Section 50(1) of the MACC Act has risen against the accused, I, therefore, call upon the accused to enter his defence on all the eight charges,” the judge said.

He also ordered Ahmad Zahid to enter his defence in relation to all 27 money-laundering charges after making the same finding.

For the CBT charges, Ahmad Zahid was alleged to have used the funds to make six payments for his personal credit cards usage, insurance policies and licences 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, under Section 409 of the Penal Code, provide 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, whereby he was alleged to have accepted bribes from three companies, namely Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services, Data Sonic Group Bhd and Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd as an inducement for him, in his capacity as Home Minister then, 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 was charged with committing the offences, framed under Section 16(a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, at the Maybank branch at Dataran Maybank in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar,here, between July 15, 2016, and March 15, 2018.

He also faced 27 charges of money-laundering by engaging in direct transactions involving income from illegal activities between March 29, 2016, and April 11, 2018.

All the 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, here, between March 29, 2016 and April 11, 2018.

Ahmad Zahid appeared calm in the dock when the judge handed down the ruling.

Judge Sequerah said Ahmad Zahid had three options – give a sworn statement while testifying under oath from the witness stand, or give an unsworn statement from the dock, or remain silent.

Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh informed the court that his client chose to give a sworn statement. 

 Hisyam also informed the court that the defence would call about 20 witnesses to testify.

“My Lord, the prosecution has offered us 37 witnesses. We need more time to prepare our defence, we have to interview the witnesses as well as to prepare witness statements.

“Hence, we are unable to start the defence on March 28 as fixed earlier. Therefore, can I suggest the court to start the trial on April 26,” said the lawyer.

The counsel’s request was not objected to by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran.

Ahmad Zahid is also facing 40 other charges at the Shah Alam Sessions Court of having accepted bribes from a company over the overseas visa system, which brought the total charges against him to 87. The case is fixed for further hearing on  Feb 3.


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