KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today denied having corruptly received RM13 million in 23 cheques in 2016 and 2017 from a businessman with a wealthy family background, insisting that he had never promised to award MyEG projects to this businessman.
Insisting that the businessman had contributed the money for mosque-building, Ahmad Zahid told the High Court that he had no ties to public-listed firm MyEG Services Berhad.
Ahmad Zahid was testifying in his own defence in his trial where he is facing 47 charges, including eight corruption charges where he is accused of having corruptly received RM21.25 million in cheques as a reward in his role as then home minister related to alleged contract awards or proposed assistance in obtaining contracts.
Today, Ahmad Zahid sought to defend himself from two of the corruption charges, with one involving a total of RM8 million in 13 cheques from the company Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services via textile wholesaler Junaith Asharab Md Shariff and another charge involving RM5 million in 10 cheques from Junaith Asharab’s Berani & Jujur Trading.
Ahmad Zahid noted that Junaith Asharab had previously told the court in this trial that he is from a “well-known family” and that his in-laws’ family was “filthy rich”.
“I was also told that Junaith Asharab is an Indian Muslim who comes from a very wealthy family where his means exceeds ordinary people’s means. I was also made to understand that he has a facility in ringgit to be contributed to whoever he wished.
“Furthermore, I was also informed that Junaith Asharab also contributed to the building of a mosque in India where the writings of 30 Juzuk (parts) of the al-Quran in that mosque are made from gold and the word “Bismillah” at the start of each surah (chapter) is made of diamonds,” Ahmad Zahid said.
Ahmad Zahid insisted today that the two corruption charges — where he was accused of having corruptly received the RM13 million by having it placed in law firm Lewis & Co’s account and allegedly receiving it as inducement for him to help Mastoro Kenny to obtain MyEG projects under the Home Ministry’s purview — were “not true”.
Noting that the cheques totalling RM13 million were issued to and deposited in Lewis & Co’s account, Ahmad Zahid insisted that these were Junaith Asharab’s donation to “develop a mosque and a tahfiz school in the Bagan Datuk district”.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Bagan Datuk MP, denied having offered to give out projects to Junaith Asharab in return for the RM13 million sum received.
“I state that I have never promised any MyEG projects to Junaith Asharab sebagai balasan (in return) for any donation given as MyEG is not under the Home Ministry’s purview, and this fact has also been confirmed by Junaith Asharab when he testified in court,” he said firmly.
Ahmad Zahid claimed that the prosecution had failed to present any evidence in court that could show that he had promised MyEG projects to Junaith Asharab, stressing that the businessman had also told the court previously that the RM13 million cheques were to build a mosque and a tahfiz school in Bagan Datuk.
Asked by his lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal which ministry that MyEG came under, Ahmad Zahid replied: “This company has got nothing to do with me personally or officially, but as far as I know, MyEG has been awarded contract by the Ministry of Finance.”
Earlier, Ahmad Zahid had explained that he had known Junaith Asharab since 2016 through Ahmad Zahid’s younger brother Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi, but denied knowing about the company Mastoro Kenny.
Ahmad Zahid also read out MyEG’s October 2018 company announcement to Bursa Malaysia shortly after he was charged in court, where MyEG said it had no knowledge of Mastoro Kenny or any dealings between Mastoro Kenny and Ahmad Zahid and that it had never made payments for any government projects.
In the excerpt read out by Ahmad Zahid, MyEG had also announced previously that it had never awarded any projects or had any dealings with Mastoro Kenny and also said it had never appointed any contractors in any of its dealings with the Home Ministry.
As for a RM250,000 cheque issued in July 2016 by Jogabonito Jewellery & Diamonds received from Junaith Asharab via the cheque being banked in to the law firm Lewis & Co’s account, Ahmad Zahid also denied that he had corruptly received this as a bribe to induce him as the then home minister to help Mastoro Kenny obtain MyEG projects.
Ahmad Zahid claimed that this RM250,000 cheque was actually a loan to his brother Mohamad Nasaee from Junaith Asharab, but claimed that he did not know of any such loans until Junaith Asharab had testified about this in court.
“I state that I do not have anything to do with this cheque. I state that I do not have knowledge that this cheque is a loan to my brother Datuk Seri Nasaee. I also state that I do not have personal knowledge about this loan,” he said, adding that it was only from Junaith Asharab’s testimony in court that he had found out that Nasaee had repaid the money borrowed.
Denying having received the RM250,000 as a bribe as alleged in one of the corruption charges, Ahmad Zahid insisted that he had never at any time promised any MyEG projects to be awarded to Junaith Asharab in exchange for the cheque.
Junaith Asharab runs Berani & Jujur Trading, while Jogabonito is owned by his former Perak schoolmate M Kumaraguru M Muthusamy.
Kumaraguru had previously told the court that he had in 2016 set up Mastoro Kenny on Junaith Asharab’s request as the latter claimed to be able to obtain projects from MyEG, but had noted that Mastoro Kenny never received any projects from MyEG or anyone since its formation until it closed down in 2018.
Earlier today, Ahmad Zahid had also said that his personal bank account in Maybank would follow his standing instructions to send out RM15,000 each month for his continuous contribution to an education institution, and these funds in his personal account were his personal contributions from his income as minister or deputy minister then.
Asked if any contributions for political donation or charity were received by Ahmad Zahid and if any of these had entered his personal bank account, Ahmad Zahid alluded to his bank statements when replying: “I have scrutinised and found that not a single sen of political funds entered my account, furthermore no contributions from anyone entered my account.” Ahmad Zahid had said such donations would either go to the law firm Lewis & Co or to Yayasan Akalbudi directly.
Throughout this trial, Ahmad Zahid’s lawyers had argued that Lewis & Co is a trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi funds.
Today, Ahmad Zahid explained that he had in June 2016 instructed for all of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds in Affin Bank to the client’s account of Lewis & Co, partly due to the law firm having the necessary accounting professionals to handle the fund’s money and with the intention for the charity’s funds to be invested for gain such as through fixed deposit interest.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid — who is also former deputy prime minister and the current Umno president — is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.