Witness: Najib requested to continue visa project for UKSB

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by TMR FILE

A PROSECUTION witness testified that Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) had requested twice to Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to continue visa project contracts for Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB).

Former principal assistant secretary at the Immigration Affairs Division of the Home Affairs Ministry, Azman Azra Abdul Rahman @ Md Salleh, testified on Tuesday that the requests were by the then prime minister (PM) in two letters dated May 23, 2013, and Jan 20, 2014.

Ahmad Zahid received the letters and minutes, said the second prosecution witness in the former’s corruption trial.

He said the letters were from UKSB to Najib.

“On May 23, 2013, the PM had sent a minute (in writing) to Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid stating that UKSB’s application needed to be approved.

“The minute dated Jan 20, 2014, stated that ‘YB Datuk Sri Zahid, Please Assist In This Matter. This contract should be continued’,” Azman Azra said at the Shah Alam High Court on the second day of the trial.

He said UKSB and the government signed an agreement on Feb 28, 2014, for the supply of the foreign visa system (VLN).

He said the supply contract spanned six years from Nov 1, 2013, to Oct 31, 2019, as per the agreement.

UKSB — the sole operator of the visa system — was required to develop, integrate and maintain he VLN System at its own cost without charging any payment to the government.

“The government also allowed UKSB to collect charges at a rate that did not exceed the ceiling rate of RM105 for every application for a Malaysian Visa,” he said during an examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Lim Wai Keong.

During cross-examination by defence counsel Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, the witness said the minutes sent by Najib to Ahmad Zahid were directives.

Separately, during a re-examination, an assistant registrar of companies and businesses of the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) Muhamad Akmaludin Abdullah, 38, testified that information recorded on SSM’s certificate did not necessarily reflect the actual financial position of UKSB.

Ahmad Zahid, 68, faced 40 corruption charges linked to the VLN works that were awarded to UKSB.

The Bagan Datuk MP’s corruption trial began on Monday with the prosecution aiming to prove that he had amassed over RM48 million in bribes related to the visa jobs.

Ahmad Zahid pleaded not guilty to 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42.4 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, and 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 (RM25,241.30) and US$15,000 (RM62,197.50) 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.