KUALA LUMPUR: An UMNO assemblyman told the High Court here on Dec 10 that he was asked to sign a statutory declaration in connection with the use of Yayasan Akalbudi (foundation) funds to pay the credit card bills of former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Hutan Melintang assemblyman and the prosecution’s 15th witness, Datuk Khairuddin Tarmizi, 55, said he was asked to sign the document by a lawyer named Murali (Muralidharan), when he met the latter at a restaurant in Bangsar on April 20, 2017.
Khairuddin, who was appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of the foundation in 2012, said he signed the document voluntarily after Murali had explained that its contents were about the payment of Ahmad Zahid’s credit card bills with funds from the foundation, and that such funds had been returned to the foundation.
Reading from the declaration written in English about bills which he had received from Ahmad Zahid for settlement with the bank at around 2014 or 2015, Khairuddin said:
“I, without any other intention, was of the view that I could use the monies in the foundation to settle the bills of Datuk Seri since a major portion of the funds of the foundation was personally contributed by Datuk Seri.
“I have now realised my view was incorrect and I have requested Datuk Seri to refund the monies (totalling RM805,768.16) used to settle the bills, which monies Datuk Seri has since paid back to the foundation.”
Khairuddin, who is also the deputy chief of Umno’s Bagan Datuk branch, said this on the 10th day of trial in the case against Ahmad Zahid, 66, who faces 47 charges comprising criminal breach of trust, bribery and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds totalling millions of ringgit.
However, when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, the witness said he did not receive the bills from Ahmad Zahid, as stated in the declaration.
Raja Rozela: Based on the statutory declaration, did YB (Yang Berhormat) use any cheques or funds from the foundation to pay the credit card bills for Datuk Seri (Ahmad Zahid)
Khairuddin: Did not.
Raja Rozela: Based on the statutory declaration, did YB ever help Datuk Seri to return the money to the foundation
Raja Rozela: Based on YB’s responses concerning three paragraphs in this statutory declaration, are the contents of this statutory declaration true
Khairuddin: Not true.
When cross-examined by defence counsel Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, the witness acknowledged that he did not seek a second opinion from another lawyer before signing the statutory declaration.
The court was also told that RM360,000 from Akalbudi Foundation was used for voter registration, in cooperation with UMNO, in August 2015 and November 2016.
TS Consultancy & Resources co-owner Jasni Majid, 65, said his company had received RM100,000 on Aug 20, 2015, and RM260,000 on Nov 25, 2016, from the deputy prime minister’s office (DPMO) at that time, namely Ahmad Zahid.
He said the funds were received through two Affin Bank Bhd cheques from Akalbudi Foundation to his company.
Jasni said DPMO had provided funds to his company to help carry out work related to voter registration, as the Special Unit (Strategic Management) came under the office’s purview.
“Voter registration was conducted in selected areas, focusing on those won by Barisan Nasional in the previous general election by a thin margin, with priority on Malay voters,” said the 16th prosecution witness.
Jasni was reading from his witness statement during the examination-in-chief by DPP Mohd Afif Ali.
Earlier, Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) executive Pinny Asnan told the court that the objective of establishing Akalbudi Foundation was to receive and administer funds to eradicate poverty.
She said that according to the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Akalbudi Foundation signed by Ahmad Zahid on March 7, 1997, it was established as a limited company for charitable purposes.
During cross-examination by lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh representing Ahmad Zahid, Jasni agreed with Hamidi’s suggestion that based on records with the SSM, TS Consultancy & Resources was registered as a business dealing with training and motivation courses.
The witness also agreed that there was no ‘voter registration’ mentioned in the business licence.
Meanwhile, the 17th prosecution witness, Sabri Said, 48, who previously served as an officer in the Special Unit (Strategic Management) at the DPMO from April 2014 to December 2016, confirmed that TS Consultancy & Resources had received funds (cheques) from Ahmad Zahid through Akalbudi Foundation twice in 2015 and 2016, amounting to RM360,000.
“The DPMO at the time helped provide funds to the company to carry out voter registration tasks as the Special Unit (Strategic Management) was under DPMO,” he said when reading his witness statement.
To a supplementary question from DPP Mohd Afif, Sabri said that TS Consultancy & Resources was set up to carry out tasks for the Special Unit as the unit needed additional manpower to perform fieldwork such as voter registration.
“At that time, the special unit had only one officer and one clerk, led by Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar,” said Sabri, who now working in the Penang Information Department.
Mohd Afif: What is the role of the Special Unit (Strategic Management) under DPMO?
Sabri: When the unit was established, it was given the mandate to carry out tasks related to voter registration and to look at aspects such as re-delineation of either the parliamentary or state constituencies, as well as to monitor elections.
Hearing before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Dec 11. – Bernama