Former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been ordered by the high court to enter his defence or be acquitted of 47 criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering charges involving tens of millions of ringgit of Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) funds.
Preceding judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah said the decision was made after the court found the prosecution has established a prima facie case against the former deputy prime minister.
“After conducting maximum evaluation, I find that the prosecution has proven the ingredients of the CBT, MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) Act and money laundering charges,” he said, reported FMT.
This decision comes almost 3 years after Zahid was first slapped with 47 graft-related charges over his alleged role in the misappropriation of millions of ringgit of the charity’s funds.
The charges comprised 27 counts of money laundering, 12 of criminal breach of trust, and eight of corruption.
On 19 March 2021, the prosecution closed its case after calling 99 witnesses including Ahmad Zahid’s former special officer Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar; legal firm Lewis & Co partner B. Muralidharan, money changer Omar Ali Abdullah and Ahmad Zahid’s former executive secretary Mejar Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly.
Sequerah also gave Zahid 3 options to conduct his defence, firstly to testify under oath on the witness stand with the prosecution given the opportunity to question the accused during cross-examination, secondly to give an unsworn statement from the dock without being cross-examined by the prosecution, and thirdly to keep silent and not answer to the charges.
Zahid’s lawyer, Hamidi Mohd Noh, told the court that his client will give a sworn statement. The hearing for the defence stage is set to start on 28 March.
On the other hand, Sequerah also said Zahid is not entitled to enjoy “immunity” from prosecution on grounds that he truthfully disclosed all transactions related to Yayasan Akalbudi. “After considering the submissions, I find that there is no merit to this, and the accused is not entitled for immunity,” he said.
Previously, Zahid’s lawyers had argued that Zahid should enjoy immunity under Section 30(7) of the MACC Act that stated that anyone who disclosed information or produced any document to the authorities would not be incriminated.
However, the provision was repealed on 1 October 2018.
The defence had contended that MACC officers recorded Zahid’s statement between 2 and 3 July 2018, in which he gave details on the setting up of the foundation, its sources of funds, and personal particulars of himself and family members.
However, the prosecution argued that the “immunity” raised by Zahid was an attempt to strike out all the charges.
He added that Zahid should have filed for a judicial review before the civil courts to determine if he enjoyed immunity from prosecution.