Lawyer says firm was never a trustee of Zahid’s Akalbudi foundation

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

KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer told the High Court in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial today that his legal firm had never acted as trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation associated with the accused.

V Premshangar, 50, said this when cross-examined by Zahid’s lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik on Day 32 of the trial.

Hisyam had suggested that the cheques and money in a file and ledger belonged to Yayasan Akalbudi, not Yayasan Al-Falah which a prosecution witness earlier said was established by Zahid’s family.

However, Premshangar said he could not answer the question as he had not handled the file in question.

V Premshangar

“As far as I know, we only handled Yayasan Al-Falah,” he added.

When asked if he was sure, he said he had checked.

“We only have files on Yayasan Al-Falah.”

Premshangar, the 86th prosecution witness, also said he had only handled Zahid’s civil litigation matters.

Hisyam had been trying to establish that legal firm Messrs Lewis & Co, where Premshangar had been a partner since 1998, was a stakeholder or trustee for money belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, not Yayasan Al-Falah.

The prosecution meanwhile is contending that the legal firm is a stakeholder and trustee for Yayasan Al-Falah.

They also argue that the former deputy prime minister received money from various individuals and companies for unlawful activities of which he was aware.

The earlier prosecution witness had said that Yayasan Al-Falah was started by Zahid’s family while Yayasan Akalbudi was established by Zahid himself.

The position of the defence is that the funds put into the account of Lewis & Co were donations given for the purpose of charitable activities undertaken by Yayasan Akalbudi.

Earlier in his witness statement, Premshangar said any money related to clients’ accounts was handled by his partner, B Muralidharan.

“I can confirm that I never received any direct instruction from the accused to deposit cheques in our clients’ account,” he added.

He also denied any knowledge of how his firm was involved in the management of Zahid’s money as that had been handled by Muralidharan.

Zahid faces 47 charges of criminal breach of trust involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds, money laundering as well as accepting bribes for various projects amounting to RM117 million during his tenure as home minister.

Deputy public prosecutor Lee Keng Fatt sought an adjournment until tomorrow as lead prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who was expected to examine Muralidharan, was absent due to health issues.

Trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed the application.