D’day tomorrow for Zahid in foreign visa system corruption case

THE decision on whether Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will be freed or ordered to enter his defence on 40 charges of corruption in connection with the foreign visa system (VLN) will be known tomorrow (Sept 23).

High court judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa is scheduled to deliver his decision at the end of the defence’s case at 9am.

If the decision favours the prosecution, Zahid, 69, will be called to enter his defence. If it does not, then the former deputy prime minister will be acquitted and discharged.

The prosecution is represented by deputy public prosecutors Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Abdul Malik Ayob, Zander Lim Wai Keong, and B. Thavani, while lawyers Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal and Hamidi Mohd Noh are representing Zahid.

The prosecution closed its case on August 11, 2022, after calling 18 witnesses, in the trial which began on May 24, 2021.

Among the prosecution witnesses called to testify were former Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Alwi Ibrahim and three former Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) directors — Harry Lee Vui Khiun, Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani and David Tan Siong Sun.

On June 26, 2019, Zahid was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with seven charges of corruption over the VLN system and on July 31 of the same year, the court allowed the UMNO president’s application to transfer the case to the Shah Alam Sessions Court for it to be jointly heard with 33 other corruption charges, also in connection with the VLN.

All the cases were eventually transferred to the Shah Alam High Court for hearing.

On the 33 charges, Zahid was alleged to have received bribes amounting to S$13.56 mil (RM43.62 mil) from UKSB for himself as then-home minister to extend the contract of the company as the operator of one-stop-centre services in China and the VLN system as well as to maintain the contract agreement to supply the VLN integrated system to the same company by the Home Ministry.

He was charged with committing all the offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya, and Country Heights Kajang, Selangor, between October 2014 and March 2018.

The charges were framed under Section 16(a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, which provides imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The Bagan Datuk MP has also pleaded not guilty to 33 alternative charges framed under Section 65 of the Penal Code, whereby he was charged in his capacity as home minister with receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 mil in relation to the VLN system between 2014 and 2017.

On the other seven charges, he was alleged to have obtained for himself S$1,150,000, RM3 mil, 15,000 Swiss Franc (RM70,941) and US$15,000 (RM68,542) from the same company, which he is alleged to have known had a connection with his function as the then home minister.

He was charged with committing the offences at a house in Country Heights, Kajang, between June 2015 and October 2017. — Sept 22, 2022

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