Court hears that Zahid received millions in bribes linked to visa system

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According to the prosecution, Zahid took advantage of his position to accumulate wealth.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s second trial kicked off today with the prosecution saying the accused took advantage of his position to accumulate wealth and that they would call at least 20 witnesses. In rebuttal, his defence team claimed the criminal charges levelled against him were aimed at accomplishing ‘character assassination’.

The prosecution in Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial involving the government’s foreign visa system told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today the former deputy prime minister took advantage of his then high position to accumulate wealth.

In her opening statement, deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran contended that Zahid took bribes in different currencies – Singaporean dollar, euro and the US dollar – as well as ringgit from contractor Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB).

Zahid, who was also the home minister then, allegedly received S$14.71 million, US$15,000, €5,000 and RM3.13 million in cash between 2014 and 2017.

Bernama

The prosecution said the money was paid as an inducement for Zahid to extend Ultra Kirana’s contract to manage the visa system and the One-Stop Centre (OSC) in China.

“Throughout his four-year tenure as minister at the Home Ministry, the accused took advantage of his position to reap monetary benefits for himself,” she told High Court judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa.

Raja Rozela said the prosecution aims to prove the link between UKSB’s appointment as a contractor with the fact that the accused received bribes from the aforementioned company.

“The accused was both involved and had knowledge of UKSB’s appointment as a contractor. The prosecution will present oral testimonies and documentary evidence to prove this fact.

“All of the testimonies to be presented in court will prove a prima facie case against the accused of the offences committed as stipulated in the respective criminal charges,” she said.

She also said the prosecution aims to call at least 20 witnesses for the trial.

Raja Rozela said the prosecution would also submit oral evidence and documents that would prove Zahid was involved and had knowledge of UKSB’s appointment as contractor.

“Yang Arif will also hear the testimony of several witnesses who will detail the facts and circumstances of when and how the bribe money was received by the accused.

“At the end of the prosecution case, Yang Arif will be able to see that there is a close connection between the fact of UKSB’s appointment as the contractor and the receipt of cash by the accused.

“All the evidence that will be submitted will prove that the accused has committed the offence as stated in the charge,” she added.

Raja Rozela is assisted by deputy public prosecutors Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Gan Peng Kun and Lim Wai Keong, while Zahid is represented by lawyers Ahmad Zaidi Zainal and Hamidi Mohd Noh.

In rebutting the prosecution’s opening statement, Zahid’s defence team contended that the criminal charges levelled against the former deputy prime minister were aimed at accomplishing ‘character assassination’.

“The defence team vehemently rejected the statement made in the prosecution’s opening statement.

“Zahid during his tenure as home minister never took advantage of his position and never reaped monetary benefits during that period,” they said.

They also said the appointment of UKSB as a contractor to the Malaysian government for services rendered was not made during Zahid’s tenure as home minister.

“The defence also states that there was no motivation required for UKSB to offer bribes to Zahid at that time,” they added.

The defence team also said they were prepared to cross-examine and challenge the testimonies of the 20 prosecution witnesses called to testify in due course of the trial.

Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) assistant registrar Muhamad Akmaluddin Abdullah took the stand as the first prosecution witness

In his witness statement, Muhamad Akmaluddin detailed UKSB’s business nature as one that involves in providing visa facilities related services.

According to CCM documents, UKSB also had two addresses in Kuala Lumpur and Cyberjaya, with the former its registered address and the latter its business address.

He also affirmed that he was asked to provide UKSB’s corporate information when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) approached him in September 2018.

This will be the Umno president’s second trial following the ongoing hearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court in which he is facing 47 criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering charges involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

In this VLN case, Ahmad Zahid pleaded not guilty to 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant then as home minister to extend the contract of company as the operator of One Stop Centre (OSC) in China and the VLN system as well as to maintain the agreement to supply VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the Home Ministry.

He allegedly committed the offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and in Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.

The Bagan Datuk MP also pleaded not guilty to 33 alternative charges under Section 165 of the Penal Code as home minister for receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million in relation to the VLN system between 2014 and 2017.

For another seven charges, Ahmad Zahid was charged as home minister for accepting S$1,150,000, RM3,000,000, €15,000 (RM75,663) and US$15,000 (RM62,115) in cash from the same company which he knew had connection with his function as then home minister.

He was charged with committing the offences at a house in Country Heights, between June 2015 and October 2017, under Section 165 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail term of two years or fine or both if found guilty.

The hearing resumes tomorrow.