KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s lead lawyer argued in the High Court today that the 27 money laundering charges laid against the former deputy prime minister are defective.
Lead defence counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said that the charges were defective because the prosecution failed to specify the exact details on how the funds received by Yayasan Akalbudi and subsequent withdrawals via cheques, were from illegal activities.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid is facing 27 money-laundering charges relating to funds that were allegedly proceeds from unlawful activities, including 25 charges involving his alleged instructions to law firm Lewis & Co on 25 separate occasions to put over RM53 million into fixed deposit accounts.
The 26th charge is over Ahmad Zahid’s alleged instructions to buy two houses worth RM5.9 million via a cheque from Lewis & Co that involved unlawful funds.
The 27th charge concerns his alleged instructions to moneychanger Omar Ali Abdullah to convert RM7.5 million of illegal funds into 35 cheques that were then given to the same law firm to be placed in fixed deposits.
Hisyam argued that there was no evidence that the monies supposedly converted by Omar Ali were from illegal funds, including cheques issued to Yayasan Akalbudi by Ekares Sdn Bhd, a company owned by the moneychanger’s wife.
He posited that evidence to indicate that the donations by MyEG Service Sdn Bhd non-executive director Mohd Jimmy Wong Abdullah to Zahid had not come from illegal sources, adding that the prosecution also acknowledged this earlier in the trial.
“The prosecution has made a number of concessions. To a question posed by your lordship to the learned deputy on the Ekares Sdn Bhd cheque, my lord asked whether the sources of the monies from the Ekares cheque, the deputy public prosecutors said it is unclear where the money came from.
“He says there is no direct evidence. My lord, our reply to this is that this concession is correct. This concession must also be applied across the board, to all cheques handled by Omar Ali because the source is the same.
Hisyam said the prosecution also conceded there was no illegal activity in regards to Jimmy Wong’s donation to the foundation.
Omar Ali previously testified in court that he helped convert a total of RM7,511,250.20 in cash into 35 cheques issued between March 29, 2016 to June 30, 2016. All 35 cheques named the law firm “Lewis & Co” as the recipient.
The court previously heard that 16 of the cheques totalling RM4,559,036 (RM4.56 million) were issued through the bank account of Ekares Sdn Bhd.
The other cheques included two banker’s cheques valued at RM50,000 each that Omar Ali had asked his staff to buy; cheques given by money-exchange customers T. Rajan, Patt Siew Ming, Hwa Thong Bags Sdn Bhd, Ong Weng Fatt, and Mohyiddin Al Halabi; as well as cheques for loan repayments by K. Rajan Gunaretnam, Lee Fook Khuen, HRA Teguh Sdn Bhd, and Cergas Murni Sdn Bhd.
Omar Ali had also testified that he had handed over these 35 cheques issued in 2016 to Zahid.
The trial in front of High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes on December 5, with Hisyam expected to wrap up his oral submission for the defence.