A partner of Messrs Lewis & Co told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today that the legal firm was not a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi, which is owned by former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
V Premshangar, 50, also said the firm had never handled files or ledgers relating to the foundation.
Premshangar was the 86th prosecution witness during the former deputy prime minister’s trial involving 47 charges relating to criminal breach of trust (CBT), bribery and money-laundering.
Under cross-examination by Zahid’s lawyer Hisham Teh Poh Teik, the witness said there were no files on Yayasan Akalbudi in the firm’s record nor did the firm ever represent the foundation.
“We were never a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi.
“I have checked, we only have files on Yayasan Al-Falah. There were no records on Yayasan Akalbudi and we had never acted for Yayasan Akalbudi,” he said.
Asked if he agreed the money reflected in all the cheques, banker’s cheques, ledgers and money belonged to Yayasan Akalbudi and not Yayasan Al-Falah, the witness said he could not answer as it was not him who handled the files.
Premshangar said he did handle civil litigation matters for Zahid, but stressed that Yayasan Al-Falah’s matters were handled by the firm’s co-partner Muralidharan Balan Pillai.
Hisyam: I put it to you that all the cheques and bankers’ cheques recorded in this file and ledger, the monies belong to Yayasan Akalbudi, and not Yayasan Al-Falah.
Premshangar: I can’t answer this question, I did not handle this matter.
Previously, Zahid’s legal team had repeatedly suggested to various prosecution witnesses that Lewis & Co is a trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi and that funds linked to the foundation were for charity purposes.
Lewis & Co’s accountant V Sothilechmy had, however, told the court previously that she had never heard of Yayasan Akalbudi and that Yayasan Akalbudi is not a client of the law firm.
Hisham then contended that there was a discussion at Zahid’s residence in Country Heights in April 2016 in which the latter had informed the witness and his law firm partner B Muralidharan that a fixed deposit account was for Yayasan Akalbudi.
The witness who is a lawyer and solicitor replied that he disagreed with the contention saying that he was not involved in the discussion.
Yayasan Al-Falah’s trustee Faisalludin Mohamat Yusuff, the 66th prosecution witness, previously testified that the foundation’s chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi is Zahid’s younger brother.
Faisalludin had also said he understood Yayasan Akalbudi to be a foundation specific to Zahid, while Yayasan Al-Falah is a foundation formed for both Zahid and Nasaee’s late biological father Hamidi@Ahmad Tarmidzi Radin Abdul Fateh’s children and family.
Premshangar also said he did not know how Lewis & Co was involved in managing monies from Zahid as it was all managed by Muralidharan.
“I confirm that I have no personal knowledge on the management of monies and the Yayasan Al-Falah file at Lewis & Co as it was not managed by me,” he said adding that he did not receive any direct instructions from Zahid in regards with cheques deposits and withdrawals into the firm’s account.
Earlier today, Hisyam informed the High Court that Zahid’s legal team will be recalling the fourth, seventh, eighth, 15th, 18th and 66th prosecution witnesses following amendments to some of Zahid’s charges yesterday.
Hisyam also said this is not an exhaustive list and that the defence reserves the right to recall other witnesses.
In this trial, 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.
Trial resumes tomorrow before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah and Muralidharan will be taking the stand.
Nov 21, Zahid’s Trial: Day Four
Nov 21, Zahid’s Trial: Day Three
Nov 19, Zahid’s Trial: Day Two