KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — The Sessions Court here today allowed an application by former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to transfer to the Shah Alam Sessions Court his case on seven counts of corruption in relation to Malaysia’s foreign visa system (VLN).
Judge Azman Ahmad made the decision after studying the affidavit in the application and hearing the submissions by both parties.
“This court finds that neither party will be prejudiced (in this case) and, in the interest of all parties, the court allows the case to be transferred to Shah Alam,” he said and set August 14 for mention of the case in the Shah Alam Sessions Court.
The seven charges will be now jointly heard in the Shah Alam Sessions Court with 33 other corruption charges, also in connection with the VLN, made against Ahmad Zahid.
On the seven charges, Ahmad Zahid, 66, is charged with accepting bribes totalling S$4.24 million (RM1=S$3.06) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd as an inducement for him, as a public officer, that is as the home minister, to extend the company’s contract as the operator of the One Stop Centre (OSC) in China and the VLN system.
The offences were allegedly committed at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya, between March 28, 2017, and March 2, 2018.
The charges have been made under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 and punishable under Section 24 (1) of the same Act, which 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.
On the 33 charges already at the Shah Alam Sessions Court, Ahmad Zahid is alleged to have corruptly received RM42.76 million from the same company, also for the VLN system, and the prosecution filed a notice of motion last July 24 to transfer the case to the Sessions Court here so that it could be heard together with the seven charges.
Earlier, during submission, lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, representing Ahmad Zahid, said the defence is applying to transfer the case of the seven charges to Shah Alam as there are more charges against his client before the Shah Alam Sessions Court.
He said the 40 charges involve the same witnesses and transactions, except for the time that the offences were allegedly committed.
“Regarding the written submission by the respondent (prosecution) in an affidavit which mentioned for the convenience of witnesses residing around Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya, we submit that the complainant in this case also has a house in Shah Alam, other than Putrajaya, so there is no issue why this case should be maintained in Kuala Lumpur.
“We are seeking an early date actually and we cannot get it if this case is in Kuala Lumpur. My client also has another case before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah,” he said.
DPP Gan Peng Kun submitted that it will be fair for the case to be heard in Kuala Lumpur as most of the witnesses are in the city and it will inconvenience them if the case is transferred to Shah Alam.
On the grounds by Ahmad Zahid to transfer the case to Shah Alam because he faces more charges there, Gan said cases are filed based on where the alleged offences are committed.
“The number of charges is immaterial for the court to consider but the interest of justice is the convenience of witnesses,” he said. — Bernama