Insisting that he had verbally instructed law firm Lewis & Co to be the trustee to handle Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds in a client account, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today also denied that he was merely using the law firm to launder illegal funds. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
By Ida Lim
Thursday, 07 Jul 2022 6:05 PM MYT
KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi denied in court today that illegally-sourced donations were why he did not personally keep written records of donors and their amounts to his charity Yayasan Akalbudi.
Insisting that he had verbally instructed law firm Lewis & Co to be the trustee to handle Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds in a client account, Ahmad Zahid today also denied that he was merely using the law firm to launder illegal funds.
Testifying in his own defence in his trial over his alleged receiving of bribes and alleged involvement in money laundering, Ahmad Zahid maintained that purported donations — to the tune of millions of ringgit — were all for charity.
Ahmad Zahid previously testified that he would direct donors to make their cheques payable to Lewis & Co’s client account, where funds were kept purportedly on Yayasan Akalbudi’s behalf.
Ahmad Zahid confirmed that the donations via these cheques can only be identified through a ledger prepared by Lewis & Co, as well as bank-in slips.
Ahmad Zahid agreed that the law firm’s ledger had recorded the dates, the cheque number, and the amount of money in the cheques which were banked in to the client account, further agreeing that these recorded details would enable the original cheques given by the donors to be found.
Deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong then asked if Ahmad Zahid personally “cannot tell who are the donors” without there being Lewis & Co or its partner Muralidharan Balan Pillai and without the ledger prepared by the law firm.
Ahmad Zahid agreed with this suggestion.
Harris: So, all this was done, because you trust the intention and the akad (verbal agreement) of donors. Secondly, you trust Lewis & Co, Muralidharan will do their work professionally, that’s why you did it like that.
Ahmad Zahid: Agreed.
Harris: Do you agree with me, there is no interest for you to record who is donor A, how many millions, donor B, how many millions, donor C, how many millions, because what is important is they are sincere, they trust you, and most importantly Lewis & Co will take care of those funds.
Ahmad Zahid: Agreed.
But Ahmad Zahid then disagreed when asked if he had done so as all the funds were not owned by the government of Malaysia or by citizens, but because they were owned by Yayasan Akalbudi which he had formed and that Yayasan Akalbudi funds were donated by the public who trusted he will manage it as best as he can.
Harris then appeared to suggest that Ahmad Zahid had deliberately not kept any written records of his own on the donations, but Ahmad Zahid disagreed.
Harris: I have to say to you, you yourself chose to not do so — namely to record the name of donors and the amount or any other necessary records on the cheques that were said to be received as donations — you chose not to do so?
Ahmad Zahid: Disagree.
Harris: The reason why I said that, is because the funds that you received, are proceeds from illegal activities as per Act 613 (anti-money laundering law)?
Ahmad Zahid: Disagree.
Harris: And secondly, I also say you only used Lewis & Co’s client account for activities of laundering illegal funds for you.
Ahmad Zahid: Disagree and also never, Yang Arif.
Harris: Thirdly, all this, I say to you, you did it purely for your own personal interests.
Ahmad Zahid: Disagree and I reject it totally.
Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.
Ahmad Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes on August 5, with the prosecution expected to cross-examine him on the corruption charges.
Before the trial resumes in the Kuala Lumpur court complex here, the judge, the prosecution and the defence would be making a visit on August 1 to two houses — described as “bungalows” throughout this trial — in Country Heights in Kajang, Selangor which were purchased in 2017 using RM5.9 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds.
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