Foundation set up to channel then-RM120,000 income to charitable and religious work, Zahid tells court

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Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the High Court today the founding of Yayasan Akalbudi was a brainchild of his which had manifested during his active stint as a corporate figure with an estimated monthly income of RM120,000 in 1990s.

Taking the witness stand for the first time in his defence over charges of misappropriating funds involving Yayasan Akalbudi, Zahid testified that the purpose of Yayasan Budi (prior to its name change to Yayasan Akalbudi) was on a basis of performing charitable and religious work for the needful.

This, he told the court, was made possible through his contribution involving a significant portion of his disposable income to fund the foundation during the early days of its founding in 1997.

“At that time, I was earning a monthly income of around RM120,000 and I only used roughly RM30,000 to RM40,000 for me and my family, with the remainder used for alms, endowment, charity and religious purposes,” he said in his 27-page witness statement.

Bernama

Earlier, the court was told of Zahid’s corporate involvement, where he had previously held the chairman post of Bank Simpanan Nasional and top management post for four other publicly listed companies between 1994 to 1998.

However, Zahid said he was forced to relinquish his posts in the listed companies after he was detained for 10-days under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1998.

Zahid also explained that despite not being allowed to be directly involved in any corporate directorship while he was a Cabinet member, he was still able to own shares which were held by nominee companies he had appointed on his behalf.

Earlier, Zahid recounted how he became involved in politics and rose up the ranks in Umno after holding various posts starting from the Bagan Datuk Umno Youth chief in 1984 before going all the up to the party presidents post in 2018.

Zahid said he was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in 2015, a post he held until 2018.

“My income at that time was about RM50,000.

“I have savings of about RM2 million now which is kept in a Bank Islam savings account,” he said.

Zahid said his charitable activities had come to a halt since the Yayasan Akalbudi accounts were frozen after he was charged.

Later, Ahmad Zahid said the undertaking of the foundation was a vow from his parents which he held on until present day as his father — a religious teacher or ustaz — had sought to remind him to perform acts of virtue when one has more than they need for themselves and their family.

It was only after around 2013 that the foundation became well-established among the public following various charitable acts it had performed, with Ahmad Zahid listing several of his acquaintances from the corporate world, namely Tan Sri Mohamed Hashim Ali, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, Tan Sri Halim Saad and Tan Sri Ahmad Johan making a contribution themselves voluntarily.

“For this purpose, I am stressing that Yayasan Akalbudi has never ever asked any individuals or companies if they wished to contribute to the foundation.

“Yayasan Akalbudi has never obstructed or prevented any parties from contributing to the foundation,” he said.

In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is a former deputy prime minister and currently the Umno president ― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes April 15.