KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid (picture) told the High Court today that two cheques amounting to RM6 million received from Syarikat Sarana Kencana Sdn Bhd are political contributions when he was the deputy prime minister and were not bribes.
Ahmad Zahid, 69, said allegations that the cheques received via former Datasonic Group Berhad deputy managing director Chew Ben Ben were inducement to appoint Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd (DTSB) to supply passport chip for five years is not true and is slanderous.
“I wish to stress that the decision to appoint DTSB is not by me. I have no authority to make the final decision as it is under the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry.
“The process carried out by the Finance Ministry, Home Ministry (KDN) and Immigration Department on awarding the polycarbonate contract to DTSB was in order and according to the stipulated procedure. All procedures were conducted appropriately by my officers at KDN and was verified by the Finance Ministry before the contract was awarded to DTSB,” he said.
He said this when questioned by his lawyer, Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal while defending himself on 47 charges with 12 of them involving breach of trust, eight charges of corruption and 27 charges of money laundering, involving tens of millions of ringgit in funds belonging to YAB.
Ahmad Zahid said when was holding the post of Home Minister, General (Retire) Tan Sri Mohamed Hashim Mohd Ali (former DTSB director) had submitted a letter “Application to Supply Passport chip for five years or 12.5 million chips which would be embedded in the Malaysian passport polycarbonate biodata page to the government via direct negotiation.
“When it involves direct negotiation, it involves directives from the Treasury as well as the internal procurement of the Home Ministry. Furthermore, I stated that the Ministry of Finance determines awarding direct negotiations to any company that has made an application not at the procurement level of the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he said.
To Ahmad Zaidi’s question on how his client knew Mohamed Hashim, Ahmad Zahid said when he held the position of political secretary to the defence minister knew Mohamed Hashim who was then the army chief.
“He (Mohamed Hashim) later became a director of several listed companies, including a director of DTSB. I have known him for more than 20 years since I was in the Ministry of Defence not because of his involvement in business but as an officer of the Malaysian Armed Forces, ”he said.
He said the Sarana Kencana was owned by Mohamed Hashim and Datuk Abu Hanifah Noordin (former managing director of Datasonic Group Berhad).
The Bagan Datuk MP also said Abu Hanifah, who is the 32nd prosecution witness, had stated in court that the cheques were given to him as a political fund which was part of a charity.
“Chew Ben Ben (the 34th prosecution witness) also testified during the re-examination by the prosecution which he stated that based on his understanding, political money is also included as charity.
“Datuk Abu Hanifah and Chew Ben Ben also stated that the issuance of these two cheques has nothing to do with the appointment of DTSB to execute the polycarbonate contract, in fact the cheques that were credited into the customer account of Messrs. Lewis & Co is a political contribution to me,” he said.
Based on the 14th and 15th charges, Ahmad Zahid is alleged to have received bribes amounting to RM6 million from Chew as a reward for appointing DTSB to implement a passport chip project for a period of five years or for a total of 12.5 million chips to be included in the polycarbonate biodata page of Malaysia’s international passport by the Immigration Department through direct negotiations under the Home Ministry.
The trial is being conducted before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah. – Bernama
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