Zahid trial hears of suitcases of cash converted into cheques

The trial of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi enters its 27th day tomorrow. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A money-changer, Omar Ali Abdullah, testified today that he received a suitcase containing half a million ringgit in cash which was to be converted into cheques for depositing into the accounts of a charitable body Yayasan Akalbudi.

Omar Ali, 48, said Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (then deputy prime minister) had asked him to help deposit welfare donations into the accounts of Yayasan Akalbudi. Zahid also told him that all the donors who will be contacting him in due course were from Yayasan Al Bukhari.

He said he had no idea why he was chosen for the task.

“I never asked (Zahidi) why (it had to be done), and only complied with his directives. The accused told me that they (cash) were welfare contributions and if I helped him convert the cash into cheques, I would receive blessings as a result of my assistance,” he said.

Omar Ali said he has personally known Zahid since his 20s.

He was testifying at the trial of Zahid on 47 charges involving criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering involving funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

Omar Ali said Zahid had also asked him to collect the cash from the donors and to convert them into cheques before depositing them into the accounts of Yayasan Akalbudi.

Several men from YALB would contact and then meet him at several locations, among them the ground floor of Fahrenheit Plaza and the lobbies of the Marriot and Grand Millennium hotels.

“I received the first call from a man whom I did not know, who wanted to meet me at the ground floor of Fahrenheit Plaza and the man passed me a luggage bag filled with cash.

“There was no conversation, once I had the bag I drove straight home, where I counted the money inside (the bag),” he said, adding that the total amount came up to about half a million ringgit.

Omar Ali, the owner of money changers Marhaba Enterprise Sdn Bhd, said each time he received cash that way, he would immediately convert the cash into cheques before depositing the money into Yayasan Akalbudi’s accounts as instructed by Zahid.

“Once I received money from this unidentified man, the accused would call me over the phone and asked me to convert the cash into cheques and then deposit them into Yayasan Akalbudi’s accounts.

“Normally, I would take between one and two weeks to do that. Once the cash has been converted into cheques, I will pass the bank slips to the accused at his house,” he said.

Omar Ali said while he was at Zahid’s house in early 2016 to pass the bank slips, the accused had instructed him to deposit the cheques into the accounts of Messrs Lewis & Co, a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi.

“I did not ask him why they were deposited into Lewis & Co and not Yayasan Akalbudi.

“Later on, I was contacted by a man, whom I do not know as well, and I went to meet him before he passed on cash in a luggage bag to me, just like how it was before with the other man. I took the bag and went straight home,” he testified.

For the 27th charge, Zahid is accused of having committed money-laundering by instructing Omar Ali to convert for him a cash amount of RM6,885,300.20, which is income from illegal activities, into 30 cheques that were given to Messrs Lewis & Co for the opening of Maybank fixed deposit accounts.

Zahid, 67, is facing 47 charges, with 12 of them involving criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit of funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

The trial continues tomorrow in its 26th day before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.