I didn’t know RM366,000 was paid to law firm, says witness in Zahid trial

Rajan Thurairatnam.

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the High Court today that he did not know his cheques were paid to the law firm implicated in the corruption trial of former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Retiree Rajan Thurairatnam said he issued five cheques amounting to RM366,000 from his bank account which he had wanted to cash.

“I wanted to cash the cheques so that I could use them to exchange into Australian dollars. The money was meant to be given to my daughter to buy a house in Australia.

“I passed the cheques to a man known as Omar,” he said, adding that Omar received his cheques on behalf of the money changer.

Rajan said he only filled up the amounts in the five cheques along with the dates and signatures, leaving the name of the payee blank.

The cheques were issued on June 15, 2016 for amounts between RM65,000 and RM83,000.

The prosecution contended that Zahid had received RM65 million from individuals known and unknown to him. The money, in the form of cheques, was allegedly delivered and deposited in the client account of Lewis & Co.

“When the bank called weeks later (from the cheques’ date) to confirm the clearance, I only knew then that it was Lewis & Co.

“Nothing. I just said yes,” Rajan said when asked by deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong about his reaction when he realised that the cheques were paid to Lewis and Co.

Apart from the cheques, he said, he had no links with the law firm. He also said he had no personal knowledge of Zahid beyond what he read in the papers.

Maybank Wisma FGV branch assistant manager Syahrul Ridzwan Nawawi testified that Rajan was a bank customer and had issued the five cheques on July 15, 2016.

He said the cheques were paid to Lewis & Co’s client account.

Another witness, CIMB Menara Binjai branch assistant customer service manager Sharifah Aspaniza Syed Mustapha, told the court that a bank customer, Ekares Sdn Bhd, had issued 16 cheques amounting to RM4.56 million to Lewis & Co between April 21, 2016 and June 30, 2016.

Maybank Taman Sri Gombak assistant branch manager Azman Mat Nor @ Mohd Nor meanwhile told the court that customer Mubarak Hussain Akhtar Husin paid RM2 million to Lewis & Co through a cheque dated Nov 25, 2016.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah on March 23.

Zahid faces 47 charges of criminal breach of trust involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds, money laundering as well as accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister.