Zahid’s lawyer shows cheque butts for alleged ‘political donation to DPM’, ‘charity’

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

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s lawyer showed in court today photocopies of the cheque butt that recorded the alleged purposes of a RM1 million cheque as a political donation to the deputy prime minister.

He also showed two others for a combined RM1 million that were recorded as for “charity”.

Zahid’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik was questioning Maybank officer Harryade Mohamad Arbe over three cheques issued in 2017 and 2018 by the company Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd to the law firm Lewis & Co.

In this trial where Zahid is facing 47 charges including bribery, Profound Radiance was previously named as the company whose director Azlan Shah Jaffril allegedly gave RM2 million in three cheques as bribes to Zahid.

The money is alleged to have travelled through Lewis & Co’s bank account to Zahid, in return for his using his position then as the home minister to appoint the company as the operator of one-stop centres for migrant workers in Pakistan and Nepal.

Harryade, who is assistant manager of Maybank’s Dataran Maybank branch, confirmed that Profound Radiance had a current account with the bank.

Harryade confirmed that Profound Radiance had via a cheque dated July 31, 2017 for RM300,000 and a cheque dated February 9, 2018 for RM700,000 made payments to Lewis & Co, and that these two cheques showed the money going into the law firm’s client account.

Such accounts are typically used to hold money belonging to a firm’s clients in trust.

Harryade confirmed that the copies of the cheque butts showed “charity” being written as the purpose for these two cheques, but said he did not know whether these cheques totalling RM1 million were actually for charity purposes.

When suggested by Hisyam that these two cheques were for “Islamic charity payable to Lewis & Co as trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi”, Harryade said he did not know.

Harryade also verified the RM1 million cheque dated January 3, 2018 issued by Profound Radiance to Lewis & Co, reading out the copy of the cheque butt as stating “political fund to TPM”. (TPM is known to be Bahasa Melayu initial for deputy prime minister, a post which Zahid had held from July 2015 to May 2018).

Hisyam: Although “political fund to TPM”, but payable to Lewis & Co?

Harryade: Yes, agree.

Hisyam: I say these three transactions are for charity for the first two cheques and another for political donation, these are outright transactions with no strings attached, agree or not, know or not?

Harryade: Don’t know.

Harryade is the 26th prosecution witness testifying against Zahid, with today being the 12th day of trial.

Earlier, Hisyam had quizzed three other bank officials from Maybank, Public Bank and RHB Islamic Bank regarding a total of 26 other cheques made out to Lewis & Co from the bank accounts of several companies, with the three officials all confirming that the cheques had “Lewis & Co client account” written at the back of the cheques.

Maybank assistant branch manager Hasnizailawaty Sudin, who is the 25th prosecution witness, confirmed that the bank’s client Sarana Kencana Sdn Bhd had issued two cheques both dated April 25, 2017 for RM1 million and RM5 million respectively to Lewis & Co.

Public Bank executive officer Rashidah Mohd Rahim, who is the 23rd prosecution witness, confirmed that the company Jogabonito Jewellery and Diamonds had issued a cheque from its account with the bank, with the cheque dated June 27, 2016 for RM250,000.

RHB Islamic Bank executive officer Faiz Azfar Mohamad Azahar, who is the 24th prosecution witness, verified a total of 23 cheques issued by two companies who had accounts in the bank.

This included Berani & Jujur Trading which had issued 10 cheques all dated January 3, 2017 and each for the amount of RM500,000, which comes up to a total of RM5 million.

The remaining cheques totalling RM8 million were by Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services, which had issued seven cheques (three cheques all dated November 23, 2016 at RM1 million each, four cheques all dated November 30, 2016 at RM500,000) and also six cheques all dated January 5, 2017 at RM500,000 each.

Zahid was previously charged with taking bribes from all these companies that were named via Lewis & Co.

Hisyam asked all these bank officials similar questions of whether they could dispute that all these cheques were given to Lewis & Co as the purported trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi and that the funds were all meant to be for an Islamic charity for Yayasan Akalbudi.

But all bankers agreed that they could not dispute such suggestions as they did not know what the funds were meant for.

Hisyam also asked if these funds could be considered open transactions as they were openly paid to the law firm, and as such amounts could be traced and would be recorded in the law firm’s books that could be inspected by auditors.

The bankers agreed that these could be considered open transactions, with some of them basing this on their understanding that law firms’ accounts are typically audited annually.

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

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