Zahid gave law firm 92 cheques totalling RM76.9m for foundation

The cheques were for the constructions of a mosque and tahfiz school in Bagan Datuk, Muralidharan told the court

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by BERNAMA

FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) gave 92 cheques totalling RM76,967,355.41 from 2016 to 2018 to Yayasan Al-Falah via law firm Messrs Lewis & Co.

In Ahmad Zahid’s graft trial, Lewis & Co partner Muralidharan Balan Pillai testified that the accused handed all the cheques to him between May 20, 2016, and April 9, 2018, at Ahmad Zahid’s home, office and the law firm’s office.

He said Ahmad Zahid told him the funds were to be used for religious and charitable purposes.

“The cheques were in particular for the constructions of a mosque and tahfiz school in Bagan Datuk, Perak (Ahmad Zahid’s constituency).

“I was told the moment the cheques were cleared to put the money in fixed deposits so that interest can be earned,” he said at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday.

Muralidharan said the cheques were issued by several companies and individuals.

The 87th prosecution witness said Yayasan Al-Falah was a client to the legal firm, but not Ahmad Zahid.

Yayasan Al-Falah is chaired by Ahmad Zahid’s younger stepbrother, Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi. Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid chaired Yayasan Akalbudi, in which Lewis & Co was not a trustee as testified by V Premshangar on Tuesday, another partner in the law firm.

Deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran: “Why record all cheques or transactions related to the 92 cheques under the Yayasan Al-Falah’s file?”

Muralidharan: “I was instructed to keep (the cheques) in the Yayasan Al-Falah file.”

Raja Rozela: “These cheques, all 92 cheques, were never given by Yayasan Al-Falah?”

Muralidharan: “No. Given by Datuk Seri Zahid.”

Raja Rozela: “Who told you to open the Yayasan Al-Falah file?”

Muralidharan: “Datuk Seri Zahid.”

In previous proceedings, the 66th prosecution witness, a lawyer and trustee of Yayasan Al-Falah, Faisalludin Mohamat Yusuff, testified that the foundation belonged to the larger Hamidi family, while Yayasan Akalbudi was for Ahmad Zahid.

Muralidharan yesterday said he was appointed to represent Yayasan Al-Falah when he received the first batch of cheques in 2016.

He, however, said there were no documents stating his appointment as he was doing pro bono work for the foundation.

“It is a practice of the firm to work on a pro bono basis for charitable work and this includes temples and churches.

“We did no legal work (for the foundation). Just collect cheques and place them as stakeholders,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges including 12 counts of criminal breach of trust, eight counts of corruption and 27 counts of money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds.

The trial resumes today.