KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court today slapped Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi with 45 charges related to criminal breach of trust, money laundering and corrupt practices, with both the prosecution and his lawyers agreeing to a sum of RM2 million as bail.
It took 55 minutes as a visibly tired Zahid, who spent the night with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), stood up to hear all the charges being read to him.
Ten CBT charges, with the highest amount involving RM17 million, come under Section 409 of the Penal Code, while eight charges were under Section 16 of the MACC Act, for accepting bribes for various projects during his time as the home minister.
The remaining 27 charges relate to money laundering under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla).
He claimed trial to all charges which were read before judge Azura Alwi.
The charges of corruption also include his alleged role in the home ministry’s outsourcing services linked to MyEG Services Sdn Bhd, allegedly receiving money from a director of Data Sonic Group Bhd to supply 12.5 million chips for Malaysian passports, as well as accepting money to appoint a company as the operator of a one-stop centre in Pakistan and Nepal for the processing of work visas.
The CBT offences were allegedly committed between January 2014 and March 2018, the offences under the MACC Act between July 2016 and March 2018, while money laundering since March 27, 2016.
Zahid, who was elected as Umno president in June, is the first sitting Umno president to be hauled to court to face criminal charges.
Lead prosecution counsel Gopal Sri Ram said there should be a joint trial for all the charges.
Sri Ram also applied to the court to instruct Zahid to pay the RM2 million in a lump sum, but Zahid’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said his client should be allowed to pay by two installments.
The judge later allowed Zahid to settle half of the amount today, and the remaining by Oct 26. He was also told to surrender his passport.
Besides Hisyam, Zahid is also represented by 11 others, while Sri Ram is assisted by four other members in the prosecution team.
Hisyam also informed the court that they would apply to transfer Zahid’s case to the High Court next week. Sri Ram did not object.
Zahid’s wife, Hamidah Khamis, and other family members were present in court today.
His former boss, Najib Razak, was also present in court together with other senior Umno leaders. Najib left shortly before the charges were read.
Zahid was called up by MACC for questioning six times between July and October.
He was being investigated over alleged abuse of funds in his family-run foundation, Yayasan Akal Budi. He had also been called in for questioning over an alleged meeting with a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family.
The court set Dec 14 for the next case mention.