The accused had received bribes involving cash in various currencies from UKSB
by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by TMR FILE
DATUK Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s (picture) corruption trial began yesterday with the prosecution aimed to prove that the former deputy prime minister amassed over RM48 million in bribes related to a visa system project.
Ahmad Zahid, 68, faced 40 corruption charges linked to the Foreign Visa System (VLN) works that were awarded to Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB).
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran said the prosecution would present evidence that Ahmad Zahid, during his four-year tenure as a home minister, had taken advantage of his position to amass personal wealth.
“The accused had received bribes involving cash in various currencies, namely, Singapore dollar, S$14.71 million (RM45.8 million); ringgit RM3.13 million; US dollar (US$15,000 [RM62,197.50]); euro and €5,000 (RM25,241.30). The accused received these monies from UKSB.
“UKSB is the company appointed by the government as a contractor to carry out supply and services works for the Ministry of Home Affairs. The appointment of UKSB was made in accordance with several agreements signed between the government of Malaysia and UKSB,” Raja Rozela said at the opening of the graft trial at the Shah Alam High Court.
She said the prosecution would submit oral evidence and documents to prove Ahmad Zahid was involved and had knowledge of UKSB’s appointment as the contractor.
The prosecution planned to call in at least 20 witnesses.
“At the end of the prosecution case, Yang Arif (the high court judge) will be able to see that there is a close connection between the fact of UKSB’s appointment as the contractor and the receipt of cash by the accused.
“All the evidence that will be submitted will prove that the accused has committed the offence as stated in the charge,” she said.
However, Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers rejected the prosecution’s opening statement, claiming that the Bagan Datuk MP did not take advantage of his position to amass wealth as claimed.
“The defence team vehemently rejected the statement made in the prosecution’s opening statement.
“Ahmad Zahid during his tenure as home minister never took advantage of his position and never reaped monetary benefits during that period,” said the defence team.
Earlier, Ahmad Zahid pleaded not guilty to 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million from UKSB as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant — the then home minister — to extend the contract of the company as the operator of a one-stop centre service in China and the VLN system, as well as to maintain the contract to supply the VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the ministry.
He allegedly committed the offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya, and in Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.
The charges are framed under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and can be punished under Section 24(1) of the same Act, which provides a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine not less than five times of the value of the gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher upon conviction.
The Umno president also pleaded not guilty to seven charges where he, in his capacity as the then home minister, was accused of accepting S$1.15 million, RM3 million, €15,000 and US$15,000 without consideration from the same company which he knew had a connection with his function.
He has been charged with committing the offences at a house in Country Heights, between June 2015 and October 2017.
At yesterday’s trial, the prosecution called the first witness, Muhamad Akmaludin Abdullah, 38, who is the assistant registrar of companies and businesses at the Companies Commission of Malaysia. He told the court that UKSB was a private limited company engaged in visa facility services.
UKSB’s shareholders comprise companies and individuals, namely HRL Capital Sdn Bhd with 150,000 shares, Seri Optima Sdn Bhd (150,000 shares) and Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani (200,000 shares), the witness said yesterday.
The trial continues today.