Zahid pleads not guilty to 33 charges involving RM42.76M over visa system

SHAH ALAM (Bernama) – Former Malaysian deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing 47 charges for criminal breach of trust (CBT), corruption and money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, has been again charged in the Sessions Court with 40 counts of having accepted bribes from a company over the overseas visa system.

In the Sessions Court yesterday, Ahmad Zahid, 66, pleaded not guilty to 33 counts of having accepted RM42.76 million from a company over the overseas visa system after all the charges were read out to him before Judge Rozilah Salleh.

Yesterday, he had pleaded not guilty in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to seven counts of having accepted bribes totalling SGD4.24 million from a company, also over the overseas visa system, raising to 87 the number of all the charges brought against him.

For 26 of the charges under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act brought against him yesterday, Ahmad Zahid, who is the UMNO president, is alleged to have received bribes totalling SGD9,320,000 from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd as an inducement for him as a public officer, that is the home minister, for having extended the company’s contract as the operator of the One Stop Centre (OSC) in China and the overseas visa system and allegedly for the Home Ministry to retain the contract to supply the integrated visa system to the same company.

He is alleged to have committed all the offences at Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and July 2017.

The charges, under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 and punishable under Section 24 (1) of the same Act, carry a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of RM10,000 or five times the amount of the bribe, whichever is higher, if convicted.

Former Malaysian deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the Sessions Court. – BERNAMA

On the remaining seven charges, Ahmad Zahid, as a public officer, that is home minister, is alleged to have obtained for himself cash of SG150,000, RM325,000, EURO15,000 and USD15,000 without consideration from the same company which he knew had a connection with his official function.

The offences, under Section 165 of the Penal Code, were allegedly committed at the same place between June 2015 and April 2017.

Ahmad Zahid faces imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine, or both, if found guilty of these offences.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar proposed RM1-million bail in one surety, as the amount of money involved in the case was huge and also informed the court that Ahmad Zahid’s passport had been impounded by the court earlier.

Lawyer Kitson Foong, representing Ahmad Zahid, objected to the amount and sought a reasonable sum.

“The prosecution will apply to merge this case with my client’s corruption case in Kuala Lumpur, so the bail amount should be considered.

“Therefore, we propose bail of RM500,000, which is a sufficient bail amount for 33 charges. It is also a fair, reasonable and adequate amount to secure the attendance of the accused in court,” said Foong.

Rozilah allowed Ahmad Zahid to be released on a bail of RM500,000 in one Malaysian surety and set July 29 for mention.

Ahmad Zahid arrived at the court at 8.35am and was accompanied by his daughter Datuk Nurul Hidayah and her husband, Datuk Saiful Nizam Mohd Yusoff.

On October 19 and December 14, 2018, as well as February 20 this year, Ahmad Zahid pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here to a total of 47 charges, 12 of which were for CBT, eight for bribery and 27 for money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

The cases were transferred to the High Court which set November 18-22, December 2-6 and December 9-13 for the hearing.