Ahmad Zahid faces criminal charges
By AFIQ AZIZ / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
 
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) will be charged today for money laundering, abuse of power, the second highest former leader to face criminal charges since Barisan Nasional was ousted in the May 9 General Election.
 
The former DPM was arrested after his presented himself at Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday.
 
The Umno president is expected to be charged over abuse of power, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering of funds related to his family-run foundation.
 
The Bagan Datoh MP spent the night at the MACC’s lockup before he is expected to be presented at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court at 8 am today.
 
Ahmad Zahid arrived at the MACC at 2.50pm yesterday after being summoned by the anti-graft agency a day before.
 
The MACC confirmed that the former DPM had detained and will be charged today.
 
“He was arrested at 3.15pm at the MACC headquarter, Putrajaya, today. Ahmad Zahid will be charged under MACC Act 2009 and the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” according to the MACC statement.
 
“MACC made the arrest after obtaining the go-ahead to prosecute from the Attorney-General’s Chambers,” said the graft-buster.
 
It is not known how many charges he will face but if found guilty under the penal code and criminal breach of trust, he could face a maximum jail term of 20 years.
 
The arrest of the 65-year-old seasoned politician had been widely speculated after the many hours of interrogation during the previous five sessions of questioning.
 
The questioning is related to alleged fund misappropriations of Yayasan Akal Budi, a foundation that was funded by Ahmad Zahid’s personal donations and his close friends meant for Islamic charity.
 
He was called to the MACC HQ three times last week. The last time, he was quizzed for about eight hours as investigators tried to piece details of transactions related to the foundation.
 
The former DPM has maintained his innocence over the foundation’s transactions and repeatedly called the authorities’ investigation as running contrary to the Islamic spirit of Yayasan Akal Budi.
 
It is not known whether any of Ahmad Zahid’s family members would be hauled up by the authorities.
 
In July, Ahmad Zahid, who is also chairman of the foundation, told MACC that the RM800,000 money had been reimbursed to the foundation two years ago.
 
He blamed his employee for making a mistake in issuing a cheque from the foundation to pay for his credit card bills, saying he had earlier instructed the person to prepare the payment from his personal bank account.
 
Former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak is already facing CBT, money laundering and abuse of power charges. Malaysia’s former First Lady Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor has also been charged for money laundering.
 
Both Najib and Rosmah pleaded not guilty of all the charges and have vowed to prove their innocence.
 
Rumours are also swirling that Najib could face more charges after he was called to give his statement on Tuesday, believed to be related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s debt payments.
 
Najib was also spotted at the MACC office yesterday morning. He left the building through the back door at 1.30pm.
 
Ahmad Zahid, who replaced the expelled Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as DPM in July 2015, was accompanied by his lawyer’s team, family members, and Umno supporters.
 
Clad in Batik shirt, he was calm. He smiled and waved at members of the press who had been camping at the building.
 
Meanwhile, Datin Seri Hamidah Khamis, Ahmad Zahid’s wife, said her husband had turned down a suggestion by his lawyer to secure bail so that he won’t be held overnight.