Zahid pleads not guilty to amended CBT, corruption charges

Former deputy prime minister and home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi faces CBT, corruption and money laundering charges involving millions of ringgit.

KUALA LUMPUR: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today claimed trial to minor amendments to 12 counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) amounting to RM31 million in funds from Yayasan Akalbudi meant for the poor and needy.

He also pleaded not guilty to two amended charges of corruption.

Defence counsel Hisham Teh Poh Teik protested against the altering of the charges “that came too late in the day” when the prosecution was about to close its case.

“We were taken by surprise. However, we reserve our right to recall prosecution witnesses,” he said.

Trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed the prosecution’s application as provided for under Section 158 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

The judge also allowed the defence to recall prosecution witnesses to be cross-examined as provided for under Section 162 of the CPC.

Deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran said the prosecution could amend charges at any stage before the close of its case as provided for under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution and Section 376 of the CPC.

So far, 85 witnesses have testified. The prosecution is expected to call a lawyer tomorrow.

The former deputy prime minister was charged on Nov 18 last year with entrustment with property but the amended charges today stated that he was entrusted dominion over property with the foundation (Yayasan Akalbudi) under Section 409 of the Penal Code.

The prosecution also removed the words “additional supply” to “supply” in the charge sheet where Zahid is said to have received RM5 million and RM1 million from Data Sonic Group Bhd director Chew Ben Ben .

Between 2016 and February last year, Zahid is said to have committed 12 CBT charges, eight corruption charges amounting to RM21.25 million and 27 money laundering charges amounting to RM65 million.

Zahid, who was home minister from 2016 to 2018, allegedly received RM17 million as a reward for the award of contracts to several companies.

The payments were corruptly received as an inducement to help secure the MyEG projects under the purview of the ministry.

Zahid is also said to have laundered RM65 million when receiving the money in the form of cheques from individuals known and unknown to him.

The prosecution, in its opening statement, said these cheques were delivered to a lawyer (Muralidharan of Messrs Lewis & Co) who, in turn, would deposit the money into the firms’ clients’ account.

A substantial portion was placed as fixed deposits under the firm’s name while two bungalow units valued at RM5.9 million were purchased using the laundered money.

Zahid, who is the Umno president, faces another 40 charges of graft involving the Immigration Department Visa System that will be heard in Shah Alam at a later time.