Defence questions witness’ credibility in Isa Samad’s corruption trial

Ikhwan Zaidel says he paid Isa Samad RM3.09 million through the latter’s special aide at the time, Zahid Md Arip (right).

KUALA LUMPUR: The defence in Isa Samad’s RM3 million corruption trial today questioned the credibility of a former company director accused of bribing the ex-Felda chairman.

Isa’s lawyer Salehuddin Saidin questioned the witness, Ikhwan Zaidel, on several payments made through Isa’s former special officer Muhammad Zahid Md Arip between July 2014 and June 2015.

He asked why Ikhwan had not attempted to record any of the payments, totalling approximately RM1.4 million, on any of the five occasions on which payment was made.

He also asked why Ikhwan had not called Isa to verify the payments.

Ikhwan, who was attached to Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd, previously told the court he had paid Isa RM3.09 million in nine tranches with the money collected by Zahid.

The businessman from Kuching told the court today that he had trusted Zahid, whom he described as being close to Isa.

“RM100,000 to RM500,000 is not a small amount of money,” Salehuddin said. “As a prudent businessman, is there a possibility that what you paid will be disputed?”

To this, Ikhwan said: “You trust that person.”

Salehuddin accused Ikhwan of lying to the court as the latter could provide no proof of the money paid to Zahid in cash.

However, Ikhwan said he disagreed.

Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz then protested the line of questioning, saying Salehuddin was out of line as he kept pressuring Ikhwan on whether he had kept records of the payments.

Trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali subsequently told the lawyer to move on to another topic.

Salehuddin asked Ikhwan if it was possible that Zahid had lied to him, using Isa’s name to obtain money, to which Ikhwan said yes.

When questioned by Afzainizam on whether there was ever a dispute over the money given to Isa through Zahid, Ikhwan said there had been no complaint from either one.

“What the counsel asked earlier were his own theories,” he said, referring to Salehuddin’s suggestion that there could have been a dispute over the money.

Isa faces one charge of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and nine counts of corruption for allegedly receiving more than RM3 million at Menara Felda, Platinum Park, Persiaran KLCC between April 29, 2014 and Dec 11, 2015.

The CBT charge provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years, whipping and a fine upon conviction, while the corruption charges allow for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the amount given in bribes.