Zahid’s trial: Zahid was ‘boss’ in charity foundation, got trustees to sign blank cheques, false statutory declaration

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Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was the “boss” in the charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi and had control over its funds as a trustee and which enabled him to commit criminal breach of trust, the prosecution argued in the High Court today.

Hari Anggara

The prosecution was presenting arguments to the High Court to say that it had successfully proven 12 criminal breaches of trust charges against former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid in relation to Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, based on documentary evidence and prosecution witnesses’ testimonies in court.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran said that the prosecution’s case is that Ahmad Zahid had allegedly misappropriated money belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi — a foundation aimed at eradicating poverty — that was then used for various matters such as his credit card bills, vehicle insurance and road tax for his personal vehicles, a football club, a political consultancy firm.

In the same brief summary of the criminal breach of trust charges against Ahmad Zahid, Raja Rozela also said he had also allegedly “made a conscious decision” to have RM17.9 million withdrawn from Yayasan Akalbudi and caused it to be transferred to a law firm without any authorisation. These funds were later given to the law firm to be placed in fixed deposits.

Noting that Ahmad Zahid was at all material times the trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi, Raja Rozela said he should have known that the money in the foundation could not be used for his own purposes.

“As such, the accused would have been well aware that the funds were to be administered for the benefit and welfare of the fund.

“And the accused, My Lord, ought to have known also he was not legally entitled to use the property, be it for himself, or for a purpose which was in the objects of Akalbudi.

“So, by making use of the funds for his own purpose, knowing that he was not entitled to do so, the accused had acted with a dishonest intention to deprive Akalbudi of the use of its property, and at the same time to secure the use of the funds for his own gain,” she said.

Raja Rozela also listed evidence from former Yayasan Akalbudi trustees to show that Ahmad Zahid was in full control of the foundation, including his alleged directions to a former trustee to pre-sign blank cheques for the foundation and his alleged directions that saw a trustee knowingly sign a statutory declaration with false contents.

Raja Rozela also noted how two trustees in Yayasan Akalbudi were later replaced by two other trustees who had held positions in Umno’s Bagan Datuk division. One of the new trustees was also a special officer to Ahmad Zahid in his capacity as the Bagan Datuk MP.

“It might seem unremarkable, they may be trustees, they were trustees just like the accused, but reality check here, My Lord, he is still the boss. The accused is the boss,” Raja Rozela said, referring to Ahmad Zahid as the accused in this trial.

“And it’s not an exaggeration on my part to suggest that what the boss wants, the boss gets.

“Perhaps Your Lordship would recall the 15th prosecution witness, statutory declaration which he signed, he gave evidence to the effect that he signed that statutory declaration even though he knew the contents were untrue. No questions asked,” Raja Rozela said.

“Whether that is commendable loyalty or blind faith, I don’t know, but either way, it shows that the accused is the one who calls the shots. In Akalbudi, he decides, the accused decides who stays and who goes,” she said.

Raja Rozela said that all these four individuals who had been trustees of Yayasan Akalbudi were “left in the dark” about the foundation’s activities.

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

The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow. – MMO

Earlier reports:

Oct 6, Zahid’s trial: Prosecution draws parallels with Najib’s RM42m SRC case

Oct 5, Zahid’s trial: Prosecution claims Zahid orchestrated money-laundering scheme

Oct 4, Zahid’s trial: Enough evidence to show Zahid received bribes amounting to millions

Sept 22, Zahid’s trial: Zahid was never promised immunity for disclosing information to MACC

Sept 20, Zahid’s trial: Defence says RM6m not reward or bribe, but political donation and for charity