Zahid’s trial: Why donation made with cash instead of cheques, judge asks defence counsel?

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The answer is unknown as the investigators did not carry out a probe on this.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah who presided over Bagan Datuk MP Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial yesterday, queried the defence team why the purported donation in millions of ringgit from Yayasan Al-Bukhari to Yayasan Akalbudi was not made via cheques, but in cash.

The question was posed to Zahid’s lead counsel, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, when he was arguing on why the 27th money-laundering charge against the accused must fall.

Sequerah: All this cash was meant to be a donation from Yayasan Al-Bukhari to Yayasan Akalbudi? Wouldn’t it be easier to write a cheque? Why bring a bagful of cash?

Hisyam: That’s our complaint, my lord. The prosecution did not investigate it. The answer can only come from Yayasan Al-Bukhari.

“We asked the investigating officer, but the investigating officer never investigated. Because there was no investigation, we cannot say the cash was proceeds from unlawful activity, unless and until they investigate, and unless and until they call a witness from Yayasan Al-Bukhari before my lord and give evidence.

“No investigation, whatsoever. Because there was no investigation, cannot say these were illegal proceeds, so the charge falls. To conclude, we challenge and invite the prosecution to show us evidence that Yayasan Al-Bukhari never donated,” he added.

On July 27 last year, a witness, Omar Ali Abdullah, testified that the money changer who allegedly laundered money on behalf of Zahid told the court that the former deputy prime minister had asked him to help deposit welfare donations into the accounts of charity body, Yayasan Akalbudi.

The 81st prosecution witness said several men from Yayasan Al-Bukhari would contact and then meet him at various locations.

He said that when he received the first call from someone he did not know and asked him to meet at the ground floor of Fahrenheit Plaza, the man passed him a luggage bag full of cash.

Fathil Asri/NST

Zahid, 68, is facing 47 charges – 12 for criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

As for the 26th money laundering charge, Zahid is accused of having committed the offence by allegedly being engaged directly in a transaction involving proceeds from lawful activity by giving instruction for the purchase of the two property lots using an RM5.9 million cheque issued by law firm Messrs Lewis & Co.

The defence will continue its submission today.