Ahmad Zahid freed of all VLN charges

The court rules that the prosecution fails to establish prima facie on the case against the Umno president

by SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / Pic by BERNAMA

THE Shah Alam High Court have acquitted former Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (picture) of 40 charges of accepting bribes from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) in relation to the company’s Foreign Visa System (VLN) contract.

Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa said the court found that the prosecution had failed to establish prima facie at the end of the prosecution case against him.

He said the three important prosecution witnesses from UKSB were not credible and unreliable, and the ledger evidence was not enough to prove that Ahmad Zahid accepted the bribe.

The three witnesses were two former UKSB directors Harry Lee Vui Khiun and Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani, and UKSB administrative manager David Tan Siong Sun.

“There are questions that arose whether money was delivered to and exchanged with Ahmad Zahid as alleged in the charges.

“I further find that even though there was a suggestion that the accused had received a political donation amounting to RM200,000 on two occasions, there is no sufficient evidence in particular before the court for me to come up.

“On the totality of the evidence, this court found that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Ahmad Zahid,” Mohd Yazid said.

Mohd Yazid added that from the ledger and the evidence of witnesses, it appears that Lee was in control of all the payments to various parties including serving and former Cabinet ministers, serving and retired government servants, and other individuals.

Mohd Yazid also criticised that the name of Nicole Tan who is the Hong Kong subcontractor was instrumental to explain the nature of the arrangement or agreement between UKSB and herself.

He said the prosecution witness did not provide any detailed explanation on Nicole’s identity and Wan Quoris Shah did not know who she was.

“Siong Sun, however, said that Nicole was a Hong Kong citizen working with the Hong Kong subcontractor who delivered the money to him. However, Lee claimed that Nicole was an employee of former UKSB director Datuk Fadzil Ahmad,” Mohd Yazid said.

Ahmad Zahid was charged with 33 counts of accepting bribes totalling S$13.56 million (RM43.67 million) from UKSB as home minister at the time to renew the firm’s contract as a one-stop centre operator in China and VLN, and maintain a contract agreement for the supply of VLN integrated systems.

For this case, the charges are made 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.

As for the other seven charges, he is alleged to have obtained for himself S$1.15 million, RM3 million, 15,000 Swiss Francs (RM70,150.87) and US$15,000 (RM68,550) from the same company, which had an official connection with his official duties. The provision is made according to Section 165 of the Penal Code which carries a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine or both if convicted.

He was alleged to have committed all the offenses in Seri Satria, Precinct 16 in Putrajaya, and Country Heights in Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.

Meanwhile, despite his acquittal, Ahmad Zahid still facing another 35 charges in the Kuala Lumpur High Court for money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving millions from Yayasan Akalbudi and for accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as the home minister.