SHAH ALAM: The judge who acquitted Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of 40 corruption charges without calling for his defence today questioned why the prosecution did not produce a sample of the envelopes allegedly used to deliver money to Zahid.
High Court judge Yazid Mustafa said three key prosecution witnesses had all testified that the money, in cash, had been placed in a brown envelope for each delivery.
The witnesses had alleged that monthly payments of S$200,000 were initially made. The amount was later increased to S$300,000 and finally to S$520,000.
Yazid also noted that if payment was not made in any particular month, the amount would be doubled up in the following month.
“The prosecution did not produce any sample envelope. No evidence was led to show the size of the envelope used,” said Yazid in a 64-page judgment released after the trial.
Making a comparison with the facts in the Rosmah Mansor solar energy corruption trial, the judge noted that a delivery of RM5 million in cash in December 2016 was split into two bags of RM2.5 million each, while a second delivery of RM1.5 million was made in two knapsacks.
“I simply cannot imagine what envelope in what size would contain the S$600,000 in cash, equivalent to around RM1.6 million at the time,” he said in his judgment.
The charges against Zahid included five occasions when he was alleged to have received S$600,000.
Zahid, 69, had been accused of 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) between October 2014 and March 2018 while he was home minister.
The money was allegedly paid by Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) over the firm’s contract for operating a one-stop visa centre in China and the foreign visa system. He was also charged with seven other counts of obtaining for himself S$1.15 million, RM3 million, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000 from the company.
Judge says witnesses enjoyed luxurious lifestyle
In his judgment, Yazid said the prosecution could not establish a prima facie case as the three main witnesses were unreliable and not credible.
The witnesses were former UKSB directors Harry Lee, Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani and David Tan.
A ledger which purportedly listed payments to ministers, politicians and civil servants did not support their testimony, he said and the prosecution had failed to establish that Zahid received the money.
A blank “remarks” column against several entries in the ledger gave rise to a possible inference that the money could have been distributed among the three, he said.
Yazid said that inference could be drawn because the trio maintained a “luxurious lifestyle” and owned expensive property and vehicles.
He said Lee, Wan Quoris and David each had “one unit of property at Pavilion (condominium building)” while Wan Quoris owned a bungalow in Putrajaya, a semi-detached house in Cyberjaya, two Range Rovers and expensive motorcycles, as well as paid taxes amounting to millions.
The judge said that without strong evidential support, “I simply cannot consciously make a finding that the monies were in fact received by the accused as suggested by the prosecution”.
He added that witnesses who had knowledge on the source of funds, including one Nicole Tan, whose name appeared on every sheet of the ledger, and two money changers, had their statements recorded but were not called as witnesses by the prosecution.
He said if Nicole had been called, she would have been able to verify David’s testimony that he received cash on a weekly basis from two money changers who received money from Hong Kong. However, Wan Quoris had testified that he did not know of the existence of any money changer, the judge said.
He said the potential witnesses from Hong Kong, including Nicole, would have been able to testify as to the actual source of the funds as the three witnesses had confirmed that the money did not originate from UKSB.