KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said he had not committed criminal breach of trust (CBT) when he gave RM1.3 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds as a cash advance to the police’s football association.
Ahmad Zahid argued that this was because his advancing of such funds to the police’s football association was in line with the charitable fund Yayasan Akalbudi’s aims of helping the needy.
Testifying in his own defence in his trial of having allegedly committed criminal breach of trust over RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds which he was entrusted with, Ahmad Zahid sought to justify the channelling of the welfare organisation’s money to the Royal Malaysia Police’s (PDRM) football association in 2015.
Ahmad Zahid explained that he had never given any contributions to the PDRM football association previously, but noted that the police force came under his overview when he was home minister and that he then knew that the football association itself pays for the monthly salaries and allowances of its players and staff.
Ahmad Zahid said his son-in-law Datuk Zul Hisham Zainal had told him that this football association was in a financially needy situation as four months of outstanding salaries had resulted in the football players and staff being unable to pay for their personal expenses such as house rent, car, and other needs.
Ahmad Zahid said he had also been told that the association’s players who rely fully on income received as full-time football players, and that he also believed the welfare of these players’ families would be affected as their salaries had not been paid for four months.
Ahmad Zahid said the total wages of the players and staff of the football association was on average about RM500,000 to RM600,000 per month, and that the outstanding salary for four months came to around RM1.3 million.
(Previously, Zul Hisham told the court that an estimated RM500,000 to RM600,000 was needed each month to pay the 30 football players and 15 management personnel of the PDRM football association).
"Therefore, I had advanced RM1.3 million to the PDRM football association to help them cover those needs and welfare,” Ahmad Zahid told the High Court today.
Ahmad Zahid verified a Yayasan Akalbudi cheque dated November 19, 2015 for RM1.3 million issued to PDRM’s football association.
"I believe that this cash advance is in line with the objectives of Yayasan Akalbudi’s formation, where this Yayasan was established generally to help in terms of welfare to those who need it,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said that two other trustees of Yayasan Akalbudi - Muhammad Nabil Salleh and Datuk Khairuddin Tarmizi - had also known about this matter, saying: "I stress that both of them had never objected to this advance as it is in line with Yayasan’s objective.” Ahmad Zahid cited his son-in-law Zul Hisham’s previous testimony in this trial as the 19th prosecution witness, who was said to have said that the National Sports Council had repaid the cash advance when it gave a RM1 million cheque to the law firm Lewis & Co on July 14, 2017.
Zul Hisham had previously agreed that the remaining RM300,000 of funds given to the PDRM football association was a form of contribution to the needy.
Previously, Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh had argued the RM1.3 million payment of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds to the PDRM football association was not criminal breach of trust, claiming that it was a "donation” allowed under Yayasan Akalbudi’s company constitution as he argued it was to "eradicate the poverty” of the football players.
The lawyer had previously argued that such a "donation” is allowed due to Yayasan Akalbudi’s company constitution’s objectives of helping the poor containing this phrase: "receive and administer funds for eradication of poverty and enhance welfare of the poor and conduct research for poverty eradication programmes and to this end”.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is also a former deputy prime minister 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.
For the 12 CBT charges, Ahmad Zahid is accused of having misappropriated more than RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, of which he was entrusted with as the foundation’s trustee and with him also later being the sole signatory for its cheques.
The 12 CBT charges relate to the use of Yayasan Akalbudi funds, namely RM1.3 million via 43 cheques for Ahmad Zahid and his wife’s credit card bills, RM107,509.55 via three cheques for vehicle insurance and road tax for 20 privately-owned vehicles, a RM1.3 million cheque to the police’s football association, a RM10 million cheque for a loan to Armada Holdings Sdn Bhd, RM360,000 via two cheques to political consultancy firm TS Consultancy & Resources, and over RM17.9 million of funds transferred from Yayasan Akalbudi to law firm Lewis & Co.
Ahmad Zahid also argued today that the RM10 million sum in December 2015 to Armada Holdings Sdn Bhd was an "investment” by Yayasan Akalbudi and insisted that it was not a loan, claiming to have been told by Armada Holdings director Datuk Wasi Khan @ Wasiyu Zama Israr that the money would be placed in a fixed deposit and with the RM10 million to be returned to Yayasan Akalbudi together with a "return on investment” matching fixed deposit interest rates.
Ahmad Zahid said his close acquaintance Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa had introduced him to Wasi Khan, and that he was told that Armada Holdings needed paid-up capital of RM10 million to meet the minimum requirements to bid for a coal supply project.
Ahmad Zahid insisted that the RM10 million was not a loan but an investment, as the money was put up as paid-up capital and returned to Yayasan Akalbudi when the "investment” did not succeed as Armada Holdings had later failed to win the contract.
"Therefore the money as that paid-up capital which was used as investment had been returned with the sum following the fixed deposit industry rates,” he had said, adding that Yayasan Akalbudi did not make a single sen of losses from this purported investment but had instead made a profit that could be used for charity.
Yayasan Akalbudi eventually received the RM10 million back from Armada Holdings together with interest of RM69,722.65 in February 2016.
Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers previously sought to explain his RM10 million payment using Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheque to Armada Holdings as both a loan and investment for the charitable foundation, as the company had repaid the RM10 million along with interest, but the prosecution had said this company ultimately does not fit within the charity’s aims of eradicating poverty.
Ahmad Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.