Lawyer says firm received RM76.9 million in cheques from Zahid

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been charged with criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court in Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial today heard that the former deputy prime minister sent 92 cheques totalling RM76.9 million to a legal firm between May 20, 2016 and April 9, 2018.

B Muralidharan, a partner at Lewis & Co, said he would then hand over the cheques to his clerk to be banked into the firm’s clients’ account.

He said the account was opened at a bank in Bangsar here in May 2016 for the purposes of the foundation Yayasan Al-Falah, which was a client.

“Zahid was not our client, only Al-Falah, but he sent the money on a staggered basis to our firm,” he said when examined by deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran.

Muralidharan, the 87th prosecution witness, said he had known Zahid since 2006 or 2007 as he was then defence minister before becoming home minister and deputy prime minister.

He said he first met Zahid at the office of a mutual accountant friend, after which he did some civil litigation work for him.

“I used to go to his house in Country Heights (in Kajang) for Hari Raya and other festivities,” he added.

He said he received the cheques at Zahid’s home or office although at times these were sent to his office as well.

He said his arrangement with Zahid was for the money to be channelled towards the construction of a mosque and a religious school in his constituency of Bagan Datuk.

“The money in the account would be placed in fixed deposits so that interest could be earned,” he added.

He said the fixed deposits were placed under Yayasan Al-Falah.

When asked what Al-Falah was, he said it was a foundation whose trustee was Zahid’s brother, Nazaee.

When asked if Zahid himself was a trustee, he said no.

The lawyer said his firm had done a lot of work on a pro bono basis for charitable purposes, including for temples and churches.

“For Al-Falah, we acted as stakeholder, collected cheques and later placed the money in fixed deposits,” he said.

He said he had heard of the Akalbudi foundation of which Zahid was trustee but maintained that his firm had no link to it.

Zahid faces 12 charges of criminal breach of trust, eight of corruption and 27 of money laundering totalling RM117 million.

The hearing before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah has been adjourned to tomorrow.