Zahid ordered RM17.9 million withdrawal from foundation.
A bank officer told the High Court that Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had ordered her to liquidate an amount of RM17.9 million from charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s fixed deposit account.
Zahid had allegedly instructed the withdrawal of over RM17 million to be used for the construction of the Yayasan Akalbudi building.
Prosecution witness Narimah Miswadi, who was the Affin Bank’s Jalan Bunus branch operating officer, testified that Zahid relayed the instruction to her during a meeting in 2016.
Narimah, the sixth witness into Zahid’s criminal trial concerning funds belonging to the charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi founded by the accused, made the claim when reading from her witness statement.
According to her witness statement, Narimah testified she met Zahid, then the deputy premier, on June 16, 2016, at his office in Putrajaya.
During the meeting, she claimed he instructed her to make a full withdrawal from the Yayasan Akalbudi fixed deposits accounts and to issue a banker’s cheque to be allegedly used for the construction of the foundation’s building in Bagan Datok, Perak.
This amounted to a payment of RM17,953,185.21 to Messrs Lewis & Co.
However, during cross-examination, Zahid’s defence counsel Ahmad Zaidi Zainal attempted to suggest to the witness that “building”, as referred to by Narimah in the fifth paragraph of her statement, actually referred to a tahfiz school building.
Zaidi: I put to you that what was said to you by Ahmad Zahid was actually for a tahfiz school at Bagan Datok.
Narimah: That, I do not remember, but as far as I remember, Ahmad Zahid told me it was for Yayasan Akalbudi building in Bagan Datok, Perak.
Narimah later said that upon her meeting with Zahid, a letter to the bank with the instructions and signed by the accused was given to her.
The court also heard that upon approval from the bank, she handed the banker’s cheque dated June 23, 2016, to Zahid’s personal assistant, one Major Mazlina.
Narimah further told the defence that the Putrajaya meeting was the first time she met Zahid.
Insisting that the building being referred to was a “tahfiz or mosque” Zaidi then suggested the witness could have forgotten the fact due to her nervousness at meeting the former deputy prime minister.
Zaidi: When you met the deputy prime minister, were you nervous?
Zaidi: I see you look at Ahmad Zahid, you became cheerful. Smiling. Why?
Narimah: Because the first time I met Zahid in 2016, he was cheerful and friendly.
Zaidi: Ok, so at the time, you were nervous and excited. At the time, you didn’t clearly hear “Yayasan Akalbudi building”, actually Ahmad Zahid said (it was) for tahfiz and mosque sponsored by the foundation. Could that be possible?
Narimah: I am sure, at the time, what I remember was Ahmad Zahid saying (it was) for Yayasan Akalbudi building in Bagan Datok, Perak.
Zaidi then questioned why Narimah had not wished to enquire why the payment was to be made to the legal firm Messrs Lewis & Co, and not directly to the party responsible for the building.
Zaidi asked Narimah if she was curious as to why the funds were requested to be withdrawn by way of banker’s cheques to be made to the legal firm Messrs Lewis & Co and not through direct payments for the construction of the buildings.
She replied that she could not go against the deputy prime minister’s personal instructions and did as she was told.
“That time Datuk Seri Zahid was the deputy prime minister, so I could not refuse instructions from him,” she answered.
She also explained that the firm had been handling the “purchase of the Yayasan Akalbudi building” at the time.
This prompted the lawyer to ask Narimah to clarify the correct term she heard used, “purchase” or “construction”.
Zaidi: So now you admit, you are actually not sure (if the word was) purchase or construction. Not sure?
Narimah: Sorry. What I’m sure, it (the money) is for Yayasan Akalbudi.
Following this, deputy public prosecutor Lee Keng Fatt also sought clarification from the bank officer over the two terms raised by the defence counsel during re-examination and asked her to recall her conversation with the accused in 2016.
“I’m sorry, I do not remember,” she responded, before being released.
Zahid is facing 47 charges, including 12 criminal breach of trust, eight counts of receiving gratification, and 27 counts of money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds.
All the charges were made under Section 409 of the Penal Code (for criminal breach of trust); Section 16(1)(a)(B) of the MACC Act 2019 (bribery); and Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amlatfapua).
Nov 19, Zahid’s Trial: Day Two