More than RM76 million went into the client’s account of law firm Messrs Lewis & Co as instructed by Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
This was revealed by B Muralidharan, a partner at the firm during the former deputy prime minister’s corruption trial involving millions of ringgit of funds from charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi.
Under examination-in chief by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, the 87th prosecution witness said the monies were made via cheques which were handed to him by Zahid in different occasions between May 20, 2016 and April 9, the same year.
Muralidharan said he received the cheques which were 92 in total at different locations, including at Zahid’s residence in Country Heights, the latter’s office and sometimes the cheques would be sent to the firm.
“But usually it (cheque) will arrive at my office in an envelope which will be placed on my table. There will also be a note in the envelope saying who it was from,” he said.
The 62-year old witness, who is a lawyer and solicitor, also testified that he was told by Zahid that the cheques were meant for charitable and religious purposes.
This, in particular, was for the construction of a mosque and a Tahfiz school in Bagan Datuk, Perak, he said.
Muralidharan added that the moment the cheques were cleared he was told by Zahid to put the money in fixed deposit accounts so that interest could be earned.
He said the fixed deposit accounts were placed under Yayasan Al-Falah, a charity foundation belonging to Zahid’s family in which his younger brother Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi was the chairman and trustee in it.
Although the client’s account was opened for Yayasan Al-Falah, the witness said the cheques were from Zahid and not from the charity foundation.
He added that Zahid was not a trustee in Yayasan Al-Falah.
Muralidharan said he was appointed to represent Yayasan Al-Falah when he received the first batch of cheques around 2016, but there were no documents stating his appointment as he was doing pro bono work for the foundation.
“It is a practice of the firm to work on pro bono basis for charitable work and this included for temples and churches.
“We did no legal works (for the foundation). Just collect cheques and placed as stakeholders,” he said.
He also said the instruction to hold the monies came from Zahid and not from Yayasan Al-Falah adding that Mohamad Nasaee knew about it.
Muralidharan said he had known Zahid since around 2006 or 2007 when they met in a mutual acquaintance’s office and Lewis & Co had handled some civil litigation matters for Zahid, but confirmed that he had kept in touch after that.
“I used to go to his house during Hari Raya festivals or functions at his house in Country Heights,” he said, before describing their relationship as one that involves “trust” and maybe “friendship”.
Throughout the time that Muralidharan had known him, Zahid was first the defence minister, before later becoming home minister, and the deputy prime minister.
Trial resumes tomorrow before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
On Oct 19 and Dec 14, 2018 and Feb 20, last year, Zahid pleaded not guilty to a total of 47 charges, 12 of which are for criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight for bribery and 27 for money-laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
Nov 21, Zahid’s Trial: Day Four
Nov 21, Zahid’s Trial: Day Three
Nov 19, Zahid’s Trial: Day Two