Yayasan Akalbudi: Eradicating poverty, or front for something more sinister?

THE prosecution in the graft trial of UMNO President Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi concluded its case recently, with enough courtroom drama and eye-raising reveals to keep Malaysians at the edge of their seats.

The Bagan Datuk MP is facing 47 charges – 12 of which are for criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight for bribery and 27 for money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi.

With so much controversy surrounding Yayasan Akalbudi, one cannot help but wonder if the charity foundation is truly set up for the innocent purpose of eradicating poverty in Malaysia, or if it is, beneath the surface, a mere front for something more sinister.

If it is for the latter, how many more of such ‘charity foundations’ are out there, and how much money is involved here?

The prosecution had stated in their opening statement back in November 2019 that it would prove that the deputy prime minister had embezzled millions of ringgit from the charity foundation and not a sen of the money was used for the benefit of the poor.

For the CBT charges, Zahid was alleged to have used the funds to make payments for personal credit cards, insurance policies and license for his personal vehicles, remittances to a law firm and contributions to the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) football association.

He was also charged with eight counts of receiving bribes from three companies as an inducement for him, in his capacity as the then Home Minister, to help companies obtain MyEG projects for the supply of passport chips and to be appointed the operator of migrant visa one-stop centres in Pakistan and Nepal respectively.

Zahid is also facing 27 money-laundering charges by engaging in direct transactions involving proceeds from illegal activities between March 2016 and April 2018.

Would Zahid be called to enter his defence, or would he walk away a free man? He had, after all, pleaded not guilty to all 47 charges and vowed to continue “to fight in court” to clear his name.

Whatever the outcome, there is no doubt that it is going to be one hell of a fight. – March 23, 2021

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