KUALA LUMPUR: Tycoon Lee Kim Yew sold two bungalows at Country Heights in Kajang at below market price in 2017 as he needed money urgently to settle his taxes, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the High Court.
The former deputy prime minister said that was the reason his lawyer cancelled a fixed deposit prematurely to make the payment as soon as possible.
He said Lee, the Country Heights founder, gave him very short notice to settle the payment for the properties.
“He needed the money badly. That was why he sold the bungalows at below market price,” he said when cross-examined by deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong.
“I knew he was facing problems paying his income tax, that’s why the timeline given to us was very short.”
The Umno president said the discounted price offer was made to Yayasan Akalbudi and a decision had to be made fast.
Harris asked Zahid whether the RM5.9 million purchase of the properties was meant for charitable purposes.
Harris: The purchase of the buildings was not for charity but to help Tan Sri (Lee). This is based on your answer. You can agree or disagree.
Zahid: I don’t agree.
Yesterday, Zahid had told the court the two bungalows were purchased below the market price of RM12 million and converted into centres for Islamic religious studies.
One lot was priced at RM3 million and the other at RM2.9 million, he said.
The prosecution’s case is that RM5 million came from textile wholesaler Junaith Asharab Md Shariff and RM2 million from jeweller Mubarak Hussain Akhtar Husin.
The prosecution is contending that Zahid received the RM7 million in seven cheques and that he had instructed Messrs Lewis & Co, the legal firm appointed as trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi, to deposit them into the client’s account.
The prosecution said Zahid later instructed B Muralidharan, a partner with the firm, to make a payment of RM5.9 million (from the RM7 million) to purchase two properties from Bee Garden Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Lee, who was a prosecution witness in Zahid’s trial, had said he and his wife, Tan Bee Hong, were shareholders of Bee Garden.
He told the court he received a Maybank cheque dated Jan 4, 2017 from Lewis & Co for RM5.9 million for the company’s sale of the two bungalows.
The purchase of the property is the subject matter of the 26th money laundering charge faced by Zahid.
Zahid is facing 47 charges – 12 for breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
On Jan 24, the court ordered him to enter his defence on all the charges after the prosecution succeeded in proving a prima facie case.
The hearing before trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah was adjourned to Aug 1.