I was told to sign SD saying foundation’s money was returned, witness says in Zahid trial

Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi faces 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and bribery.

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s criminal breach of trust (CBT) and corruption trial told the High Court here today that he was instructed to sign a statutory declaration (SD) regarding Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheque payments to settle the former deputy prime minister’s credit card payments.

Hutan Melintang assemblyman Khairuddin Tarmizi, one of the foundation’s trustee members, said he met a lawyer by the name of Murali at a mamak restaurant here on April 20, 2017 where the lawyer gave him the SD which was prepared beforehand.

He also read the contents of the SD to the court, saying Zahid gave him the bills to settle in 2014 and 2015.

“I was of the view that I could use the money in the foundation to settle the bills of Datuk Seri (Zahid) since a major portion of the funds to the foundation was personally contributed by him.

“I have now realised my view was incorrect, and I requested him to refund the money, RM805,768.16, used to settle the bills which he had paid back to the foundation,” he read from the document.

He told the court that he understood from these two paragraphs in the SD that Zahid could use the foundation’s money to settle the bills, and that he had asked Zahid to reimburse the amount.

“I signed the SD voluntarily after Murali explained the contents to me, and I was made to understand that the money had been paid back to the foundation,” he said.

Deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran then told the court that the prosecution wished to invoke Section 132 of the Evidence Act, under which Khairuddin would need to answer the questions posed although he would not be incriminated by his response.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah then told Khairuddin to answer the questions, adding that his answers would not be used against him.

Khairuddin said he had not asked Zahid to return the money to the foundation although this was stated in the SD.

“It was not true,” he said when questioned by Raja Rozela about the authenticity of the document.

When questioned by Zahid’s lawyer Ahmad Zaidi Zainal on whether the advice purportedly given to him by Murali was inaccurate in terms of content, he agreed.

He also said he had not sought a second opinion before signing the SD.

He said most of the foundation’s money was contributed by Zahid, and that the former minister, along with his family, owned Yayasan Akalbudi.

“He would discuss with his family members before making contributions to any group or for religious purposes,” he said.

When asked about his understanding of “political donations” and whether he knew of others who had contributed to the foundation, Khairuddin said he knew that such donations were to help the poor.

However, he denied knowledge of any other contributors.

He said he knew that Yayasan Akalbudi had made various contributions to mosques, religious schools, community halls, orphanages and poor communities in Bagan Datuk and other parts of the country as well as overseas.

But when asked by deputy public prosecutor Lee Keng Fatt about the total amount given, he could not provide exact figures.

The hearing continues before Sequerah.

Zahid has been slapped with 47 charges of alleged CBT involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds, money laundering as well as accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister.