KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court was told today that parts of funds received by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s Yayasan Akalbudi were used to buy company shares and two bungalow lots.
Deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong, in his closing submissions at the end of the prosecution’s case, said RM8.6 million was paid to buy shares in a hotel management firm, Ri-Yaz Assets Sdn Bhd, five years ago.
The court was told that the money was paid as a deposit to Ri-Yaz after Zahid’s daughter, Nurulhidayah, wanted to acquire 60% of the shares owned by its former director, Abdul Rashid Abdul Manan.
Besides these shares, RM5.9 million was spent to buy bungalow lots in Kajang in 2017.
Harris said the law firm, Lewis & Co, took out funds kept in Yayasan Akalbudi’s fixed deposit accounts for these purchases.
He said the prosecution had so far adduced evidence to show the “big scale of the money laundering” involved.
“The way it was done in this case was through cheques and various individuals and entities. They (the cheques) were deposited into Lewis & Co’s client account and then placed in different fixed deposit accounts,” Harris said.
Zahid is charged with 47 counts of money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving millions of ringgit from Yayasan Akalbudi and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister.
Twelve of the charges are for CBT, eight for corruption and the remaining 27 for money laundering.
Harris reiterated that buying the bungalow lots had nothing to do with “charity”, as claimed by the defence.
“There was no evidence to show money was spent for charitable purposes, except for the fact it was for the accused’s (Zahid’s) benefit.”
He also spoke of the involvement of law firms being used “to launder money”.
“This is a serious issue that did not just happen here but is seen everywhere in the world,” Harris said.
The prosecution also drew similarities in Zahid’s case to Najib Razak’s RM42 million SRC International case.
The former prime minister was sentenced to 12 years’ in prison for abuse of power as well as another 10 years’ in prison for CBT and money laundering over SRC International’s RM42 million funds. Najib was also slapped with a RM210 million fine. He is now appealing.
Harris said in SRC International’s case, the court said in its judgment that Najib never inquired as to the legitimacy of the RM42 million in his account and spent the money.
“In this former deputy prime minister’s case, he never asked moneychanger Omar Ali Abdullah on where Omar obtained RM7.51 million in cash and converted it into 35 cheques.
“The cheques’ owners did not know the accused and did not have any business relationship with Lewis & Co.
“The accused never complained about the manner Omar converted the cash or did not take any action to verify if the money really came from Yayasan Albukhary as claimed,” the DPP added.
Hearing continues before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Oct 11.-FMT