Ex-secretary: Zahid never cancelled his permission to use charity’s cheques to pay personal credit card bills

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court October 12, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court October 12, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was the one who gave the approval to use charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques to settle the bills for his personal credit cards, and had never questioned or withdrew his approval for the use of such cheques, the court heard today.

Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly, who is Zahid’s former executive secretary, said this while testifying as the 90th prosecution witness in the former home minister and former deputy prime minister’s corruption trial involving Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds.

Previously, Mazlina had said she had Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheque book with Affin Bank and Zahid’s cheque book with Maybank in her custody in a locked drawer throughout the time she worked as Zahid’s executive secretary from December 2011 to May 2018, and that Zahid had permitted the use of Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques for his credit card bills.

Today when reexamined by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran, Mazlina again reaffirmed that Zahid had approved the use of the Yayasan Akalbudi cheques.

Rozela: You are sure Datuk Seri gave his approval for you to use Akalbudi’s cheques to pay the credit cards?

Mazlina: I’m sure, Yang Arif.

Mazlina also reaffirmed that Zahid had given his approval in the past for her to use a stamp of his signature on cheques.

Rozela: And was there at any time, after Datuk Seri gave his approval to use Akalbudi’s cheques to pay for the credit cards and when Datuk Seri gave his approval to use the signature stamp, did Datuk Seri Zahid at any time withdraw his approval or that order?

Mazlina: No, Yang Arif.

Zahid’s signature on cheques

Earlier today, when asked by Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal regarding cheques that a chemist report had classified as having signatures that were most probably or possibly written by Zahid, Mazlina disagreed with the suggestion that those cheques were pre-signed.

When asked by Raja Rozela, Mazlina explained she had disagreed with the suggestion that the cheques were pre-signed by Zahid, as she had seen Zahid sign those cheques for the credit card payments in front of her.

Raja Rozela: At that time, did Major Mazlina see for yourself Datuk Seri Zahid signing on those cheques?

Mazlina: I saw it, Yang Arif.

Mazlina added that Zahid did not say anything to her while signing those cheques, also confirming that he did not question her about the cheques that were used.

Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Major Mazlina [email protected] is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Opportunity for Zahid to check cheques, bank statements

Mazlina also said she disagreed with Zahid’s lawyers’ suggestion that she had slotted in the cheques along with other documents when bringing them to Zahid to sign, explaining that she would place the cheques at the very top of other documents when bringing them to him to sign and that he would have the opportunity to study the cheques.

Mazlina also disagreed with the suggestion that she had hidden credit card statements and bank account statements from Zahid, saying that she would present such statements to Zahid each time she brought the cheques to be signed by him.

Mazlina said that she also would bring both Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheque book and Zahid’s Maybank cheque book for Zahid to check, noting that Zahid would scrutinise the cheque butt or the leftover portion after cheques are issued out from a cheque book but that he did not say anything after checking the cheque books.

Zahid’s own account and no questions raised on Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques

Later when asked by deputy public prosecutor Lee Keng Fatt, Mazlina reaffirmed that the funds in Zahid’s personal bank account was sufficient to pay the credit card bills, but said she had not used cheques from Zahid’s personal account to pay for the credit cards due to his instructions.

Asked by Lee, Mazlina said that Zahid did not tell her that she could not use the stamp of his signature on cheques, and said that he had allowed the use of the signature stamp when he was not around in the office.

Mazlina confirmed that she had kept all banking documents related to Yayasan Akalbudi’s account, and estimated the average amount in the account each month while she was Zahid’s executive secretary from 2016 to 2018 to be in the “hundreds of thousands to millions”.

Mazlina said she had showed Yayasan Akalbudi’s bank statements  and other bank statements to Zahid whenever he asked to view it during spot checks, with such spot checks occuring once or twice a year.

Lee: For each spot check, did he tell anything to you?

Mazlina: No, Yang Arif.

In this trial, Zahid ― who is also currently the Umno president ― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

The trial will continue tomorrow, with Zahid’s lawyers expected to present their arguments to object to certain paragraphs in the written witness statement of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Fairul Rafiq Hamirudin on allegations that these amount to hearsay, while the prosecution is expected to argue against such claims.

Raja Rozela today informed the court that Fairul Rafiq who is the 89th prosecution witness and another investigating officer were already on standby this afternoon to testify in Zahid’s trial. These two witnesses are not on self-quarantine for Covid-19.

As a whole, there are eight investigating officers that will be testifying in this trial, but some of these investigating officers are currently on self-imposed quarantine since last week, Raja Rozela said.

“Nothing serious yet, this was because of the interaction with other cases, other witnesses. We got this news last week, so they have been asked by their superiors to stay away or stay at home,” she told the court.

“But this is not an order from the Health Ministry, just to be safe they have not come to court, we have not been in touch with them either,” she said.

Apart from the eight investigating officers including the 89th witness, there will also be another witness before the prosecution closes its case in Zahid’s trial, Raja Rozela said.

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