Zahid’s lawyer insists no evidence to support corrupt intent since cheques made payable to law firm, not Zahid’s account

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had earlier highlighted in court that none of the prosecution star witnesses ever testified that there was corrupt intent on the part of the accused.— Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had earlier highlighted in court that none of the prosecution star witnesses ever testified that there was corrupt intent on the part of the accused.— Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s lawyer today said the prosecution offered no evidence in support of corrupt intent in any of the bribery charges his client faced, since millions of ringgit in cheques were made payable to a law firm and not Ahmad Zahid’s personal account.

Ahmad Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had earlier highlighted in court that none of the prosecution star witnesses ever testified that there was corrupt intent on the part of the accused.

In this trial, Ahmad Zahid is facing eight corruption charges, involving a total RM21.25 million in cheques that he was alleged to have corruptly received as a reward in his role as then Home minister in relation to alleged contract awards or proposed aid in receiving contracts.

“All the cheques were made to Lewis & Co and none to the accused.

“The manner of payment is a very crucial, relevant factor in determining whether there was corrupt intent.

“All the cheques were put into a trust account and not the personal account of the accused person.

“It was an open transaction without any secrecy and not done suspiciously. The money trail is there and can be traced to their owners,” Hisyam said in the defence’s reply to the prosecution’s submissions at the end of its case.

The cheques were banked into law firm Lewis & Co, which Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers have insisted is a trustee that held money on trust for charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia and where Ahmad Zahid is a trustee.

Throughout the trial, Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers had repeatedly highlighted that the businessmen who had given millions of ringgit through cheques — with some cheques physically handed over to Ahmad Zahid — had either said these were for charitable donations or political donations.

Hisyam then went on to say that none of the star prosecution witnesses stepped forward and admitted that they bribed his client.

He further noted that witnesses’ testimonies also did not say that Ahmad Zahid had demanded, solicited or requested for the alleged gratification, suggesting corrupt intent.

In fact, he said all the cheques in connection with the eight bribery charges were maintained in a file kept at the law firm.

Furthermore, Hisyam also maintained that all of the cheques were payable to Lewis & Co which he claimed subsequently negated all suggestions of a corrupt intent.

Since law firms are required to issue receipts when payments are made, Hisyam said such circumstances showed there was no evil intention on the part of his client, as said transactions were done lawfully and in a proper manner.

Hisyam too noted the manner of payment being cheque instead of cash which were open to scrutiny by financial auditors as there was no secrecy involved.

Thus he said, the prosecution failed to establish the mental element in respect of the eight bribery charges.

In this trial, Zahid ― who is a former deputy prime minister and 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.

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