Zahid’s trial: Visa management company sought Najib’s favour

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Najib had asked Zahid to continue the UKSB contract.

The High Court in Shah Alam was told today that Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) sent several letters to former prime minister Najib Razak to seek support, as competitors vied for the right to run the one-stop visa centres UKSB operated overseas.

UKSB director Fadzil Ahmad said the company sent three letters to Najib between May 23, 2013, and October 27, 2015.

“The first letter was to inform Najib about the progress and achievements of UKSB, as well as request continued consideration and support.

“The letter dated January 20, 2014, requested the government keep UKSB as the sole operator for visa management in China, support the company’s push to make its system the only visa system in Malaysian embassies and to give priority to UKSB.

“The letter dated October 27, 2015, was to inform the prime minister about our success and progress, and to request that the Malaysian government supports fast-tracking the ‘eVisa’ system as an extension of the contracts mentioned, in order to improve services and facilities in line with the latest global technology,” he said, while reading his witness’s statement during the principal examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Zander Lim Wai Keong.

Earlier, the second prosecution witness, former principal assistant secretary for the Immigration Affairs Division Azman Azra Abdul Rahman Md Salleh told the court that Najib had asked former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to continue the UKSB contract.

Yesterday, the 12th prosecution witness, former secretary-general of the Home Ministry Abdul Rahim Mohamed Radzi told the court that in 2012, there were proposals from several rival companies.

Aside from which, Fadzil, who is the 14th prosecution witness said that his company had also sent a letter to Zahid on October 17, 2016, with the same intent as UKSB.

“This is because UKSB was of the view that it is very critical that the systems were the only ones used in every visa issuing office to Malaysia to ensure uniformity of the system and standard operating procedures, as well as to strengthen national security,” he said, adding that the company had sent other letters to Zahid between 2016 and 2017.

Meanwhile, during a cross-examination by lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh representing Zahid, Rahim agreed that the recommendation to appoint Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd and Foshwa Sdn Bhd as OSC operators for Bangladesh and other South Asian countries came from the Ministry of Home Affairs, and not from Zahid, who was the home minister at the time.

When asked by DPP Raja Rozela Raja Toran whether a minister must follow the recommendations submitted by a division or government officials under him, Rahim replied: “Not necessarily.”

Zahid served as the home minister between 2013 and 2018.

Zahid, 69, is facing 33 charges of receiving bribes worth S$13.6 million (RM42.9 million) from UKSB to extend the company’s contract, as well as maintaining the agreement to supply the system to the ministry.

He is charged with committing the offences at Seri Satria, Presint 16, Putrajaya, and at Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.

For another seven charges, Zahid is charged as home minister for accepting S$1.15 million, RM3 million €15,000 (RM75,700) and US$15,000 (RM62,100) in cash from the same company which he knew had a connection with his function as then home minister.

The hearing before Judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa continues tomorrow.