USM officer charged with 52 counts of power abuse over RM135,000 purchases

Zurina Abdul Hamid (left) leaving the Sessions Court in Butterworth after being charged today.

BUTTERWORTH: A Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) officer was charged with 52 counts of abuse of power in the Sessions Court here today over the purchase of items for her department through a company owned by her and her husband.

USM’s Sports and Recreational Centre administrative assistant officer Zurina Abdul Hamid, 43, is alleged to have obtained gratification for herself by issuing delivery orders and invoices to TZP Venture from Dec 31, 2013 to Dec 15, 2017 amounting to RM135,445.90.

The items purchased included stationery, paint and sporting goods for the sports centre, the prosecution said.

Zurina pleaded not guilty to the 52 charges, split into four cases, under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, for using her position as an officer of a public body to seek gratification.

She faces 20 years in jail or a fine of five times the sum of the gratification she received if convicted.

Deputy public prosecutor Azlan Basri requested the court to impose a high bail in view of the serious breach of trust and proposed a sum of RM73,000 for all the charges.

He also asked the court to impound her passport and order her to report to the MACC’s office monthly until the next court date.

Zurina’s lawyer, Meharaj Selvarajoo, asked for a low bail to be imposed, saying his client currently earns RM1,525 after deductions.

He said Zurina’s husband is a bank clerk earning RM4,000 a month and the couple have four children aged five to 18.

He said they also have to care for Zurina’s 71-year-old ailing mother and elder brother who is a factory worker.

Meharaj said Zurina suffers from low platelet count and is receiving treatment at a hospital.

He said there is no issue of Zurina absconding as she has attended regular meetings with MACC since she was called in last January, and has paid a RM5,000 attendance bond, which was renewed twice.

Judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid allowed bail of RM24,000 for all the charges with one surety and ordered Zurina to report to the nearest police station monthly. He also set Nov 4 for mention.

Zurina posted bail.