Businessman insists RM10m from Zahid a loan, says funding ‘too-good-to-be-true’

Datuk Wasi Khan (left) is pictured at Kuala Lumpur High Court December 12, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Wasi Khan (left) is pictured at Kuala Lumpur High Court December 12, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 —  The RM10 million that former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi gave in 2015 was a loan to a company as the funds had to be returned, a businessman dealing in oil and gas ventures insisted in court today.

The businessman, Datuk Wasi Khan @ Wasiyu Zama Israr, however acknowledged the possibility that the RM10 million cheque from Zahid could be a form of investment in his company.

Kemungkinan besar (highly possible), because to me it’s too good to be true also for someone like me,” Wasi said while testifying as the 21st prosecution witness in Zahid’s corruption trial.

Wasi was responding to deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, who had asked if he knew that the RM10 million was for an investment.

Wasi’s company Armada Holdings Sdn Bhd had received the RM10 million cheque dated November 16, 2015 issued by charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi — where Zahid is both the sole signatory for cheques and a director.

Wasi had said he had received the RM10 million cheque about one month after he met Zahid for the first time in a meeting around October 15 that was arranged by Zahid’s alleged close friend Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa (otherwise known as Datuk K).

Raja Rozela then further asked Wasi about his earlier remark today where he disagreed with Zahid’s lawyers’ suggestion the RM10 million cheque was issued as an “investment” by Yayasan Akalbudi.

“Because the RM10 million has to be returned,” Wasi replied, immediately adding: “It could be investment, it could be not investment.”

Throughout the court hearing today, Zahid’s lawyers had repeatedly suggested that Yayasan Akalbudi had given the RM10 million to Armada Holdings as an “investment” instead of as a loan, but Wasi had said he was uncertain and appeared to give inconsistent answers.

Wasi confirmed that he had four other companies in the oil and gas industry by October 2015, and that he had asked his friend Khalid to arrange a meeting with Zahid and that such a meeting happened about a week later.

During that first meeting with Zahid, Wasi said he had explained his difficulty in obtaining the RM10 million required as the minimum requirement to bid for a tender to supply coal to a company linked to energy producer Tenaga Nasional Berhad, had failed to get Zahid’s help to have the capital requirement reduced as the latter did not want to interfere in TNB affairs.

Asked by Raja Rozela to clarify, Wasi said he did not ask for “investment” during the meeting with Zahid.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at Kuala Lumpur High Court December 12, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at Kuala Lumpur High Court December 12, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Investment or loan?

Earlier when cross-examined by Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Rosal Azimin Ahmad, Wasi agreed that it was possible that Khalid had prior to the first meeting met separately with Zahid, also agreeing that both Khalid and Zahid also met to discuss about the matter after the first meeting.

Rosal highlighted that Zahid did not know of Wasi before the first meeting and had no interests in Armada Holdings and that there was no written document over the RM10 million financial aid that was given a month later, with Wasi then agreeing that Zahid had handed over the RM10 million due to his trust towards Khalid and towards Wasi’s “business proposal”.

While agreeing that the RM10 million by Zahid or Yayasan Akalbudi was used by Armada Holdings to open a bank account for the first time, Wasi disagreed that Zahid had an interest via Yayasan Akalbudi in the proposed business bid.

Asked thrice by Rosal if the RM10 million was actually intended as an “investment”, Wasi disagreed twice and finally said it was not within his knowledge.

Wasi also confirmed that he had returned the RM10 million along with RM69,722.65 from the fixed deposit interest by the bank to Yayasan Akalbudi in February 2016, saying that he had given the interest payment on his own initiative without being required to do so by Zahid.

Quizzed by Rosal, Wasi agreed that the return of RM10 million along with the addition of over RM69,000 was a profit for Yayasan Akalbudi and that the foundation did not suffer losses from the transaction.

Later when cross-examined by Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, Wasi agreed that the terms “loan” and “investment” were subjective in meaning, further agreeing that a loan could be considered as an investment.

Wasi agreed with Zaidi’s claim that Zahid had agreed in separate discussions with Khalid that Yayasan Akalbudi would invest in Armada Holdings’ planned coal business, but said he did not have knowledge of the alleged profit sharing ratio of 51 per cent to Armada Holdings and 49 per cent to Yayasan Akalbudi that Zahid and Khalid purportedly agreed to.

Zaidi also pointed out Yayasan Akalbudi’s memorandum and association, with item 3(q) stating that the charitable organisation could “invest in Malaysia the money of the foundation not immediately required in such manner as from time to time the foundation acting through its board of trustees may think fit”.

Zaidi then asked if Yayasan Akalbudi could make an investment in the form of a loan based on this item, with Wasi then agreeing.

Raja Rozela however highlighted paragraph three that 3(q) was part of, where it was stated that Yayasan Akalbudi’s objective was to “receive and administer funds for the eradication of poverty and the enhancement of the welfare of the poor and to conduct studies and research relevant to the poverty eradication programme” and that it could do the items listed from (a) to (v) for such purposes.

Raja Rozela then asked Wasi if he considered he was someone who is poor and falling within the category named in Yayasan Akalbudi’s objective, with Wasi then said no.

In this trial where Zahid is facing 47 charges, the prosecution had previously said it will prove that Zahid had misappropriated RM31 million from Yayasan Akalbudi and had allegedly not used such funds for the benefit of the poor.

The trial before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes on February 11.

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