The prosecution failed to provide any elements of dishonesty in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to commit criminal breach of trust (CBT), the defence submitted today.
Lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that the prosecution was unable to prove any CBT charges against Zahid in the CBT, corruption and money-laundering trial involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds.
“The prosecution must explain why these CBT charges were brought. This is an abuse of the judicial process. The accused has to be acquitted and discharged,” Hamidi submitted before justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Former deputy prime minister Zahid, 68, is currently 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 the charity foundation.
Yesterday, the defence argued that six out of 12 of the CBT charges could stand just because Zahid had pre-signed or stamped cheques for payments for his personal credit cards.
The defence today ended its submission to defend the Umno president’s remaining six CBT charges.
Zahid was charged with CBT over the issuance of a cheque from Yayasan Akalbudi worth RM1.3 million as a donation to the police football association on November 23, 2015.
The defence said that the four prosecution witnesses, namely association’s assistant secretary Mohd Nizam Mohd Noor, Zahid’s son-in-law Zul Hisham Zainal, and Yayasan Akalbudi trustees Muhammad Nabil Salleh and Khairuddin Tarmizi did not support the prosecution’s case.
The defence said that Zul gave evidence that the money was used essentially to pay the wages of the football players in need of financial help.
In addition to that, there was consent from the trustees to use Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds for that purpose, Hamidi said.
“Both the trustees – Nabil and Khairuddin – did not object to the said donation by the foundation to ease the financial woes of the association,” he submitted.
The defence also argued that Zahid did not commit CBT for the RM10 million cheque issued from Yayasan Akalbudi to Armada Holdings.
Hamidi said that according to Armada’s chief executive officer Wasi Khan @ Wasiyu Zama Israr Ahmad, the money was given as an advancement of capital for Armada to procure a tender from TNB Fuel Services.
Hamidi said the loan-cum-investment had a return of RM10 million with an interest of RM69,700.
“Yayasan Akalbudi is permitted by its constitution to make funds available for investments.
“In the upshot, the prosecution has failed to prove that the foundation has suffered a wrongful loss due to the investment.
“In fact, the foundation gained the sum of RM69,722.65 from the investment,” Hamidi said.
As for the eighth and 20th charges, which were in relation to two payments totalling RM360,000 made by Yayasan Akalbudi to TS Consultancy & Resources on August 20, 2015, and December 23, 2016, Hamidi said that the witnesses’ testimonies were doubtful.
The lawyer said that the witnesses, owners of the company Jasni Majid and Sabri Said, and Zahid’s former special officer Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, had said that the consultancy was established to assist Barisan Nasional for voter registration.
“However, when these witnesses were cross-examined, they contradicted themselves, affecting their credibility,” Hamidi said.
He said that Jasni has also during the trial agreed that TS Consultancy was established to be a training centre.
“Next, Wan Ahmad agreed that RM360,000 was still utilised for charitable purposes.
“Therefore, it could not be said that Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds had been dishonestly misappropriated,” Hamidi submitted.
Zahid’s lawyers also said in court today that they were not trying to use Zahid’s former secretary as a “scapegoat”.
Hamidi claimed that this former executive secretary, Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly, was at fault due to her alleged incompetence and negligence.
The lawyer alleged that it was Mazlina who made the “mistake” of using Yayasan Akalbudi cheques instead of Zahid’s personal cheque book for the credit card payments.
Among other things, Hamidi today claimed that Zahid never gave permission or approval for Mazlina to stamp his signature on Yayasan Akalbudi cheques, reiterating that the signature stamp was meant only for bulk certificates and festive wishing cards.
At one point, Hamidi claimed Zahid could not have known of the use of the Yayasan Akalbudi cheques to pay for the personal credit card bills, arguing that the former deputy prime minister would have objected if he had known especially when there were also instances when there was “overpayment” of these bills using the foundation’s cheques.
“Who benefits? The benefits are on the credit card company. So again, I said, it is an obvious fact that there is no knowledge by the accused, and we have to bear in mind, he was deputy prime minister, he was home minister at that time, and he is very busy.
“That’s why he has other people conducting his personal affairs. And he trusted those people and they negligently misused those,” he said.
Yesterday, Hamidi also argued that Ahmad Zahid cannot be held criminally liable over the use of RM1.3 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds to pay for the credit card bills between 2014 and 2016, claiming that the culpability or responsibility should instead lie with Mazlina as she had control and custody of the Yayasan Akalbudi cheques.
The trial before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.