KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today told the High Court that he had “more than enough” in his personal bank account to pay for his credit cards bills, suggesting that his former secretary Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly could have used charity Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques to make the credit card payments out of carelessness or negligence.
Ahmad Zahid said this while testifying as the first defence witness in his own defence in a trial, where he is accused of having committed a criminal breach of trust in relation to more than RM31 million of Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, including RM1.3 million for his and his wife’s credit card bills.
Asked by his lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh, Ahmad Zahid confirmed that there were sufficient funds in his own bank account that could be used to pay for his personal credit card bills.
Hamidi: Just now we looked at all the credit card payments made by Mazlina using Yayasan Akalbudi cheques. You saw your account balance, on those dates I mentioned, did you have enough money from your personal account to pay those credit cards?
Ahmad Zahid: Yes, from the monthly statements from the bank, the balance every month is more than enough to pay my personal credit cards. More than enough.
Hamidi: If that is the situation, why did Mazlina use Yayasan Akalbudi cheques to pay the credit cards?
Ahmad Zahid: Yang Arif, this may be her negligence by not using cheques from my personal account to pay for all credit cards as stated just now.
When Hamidi suggested that it was actual and not just possible negligence as Mazlina had previously admitted to being negligent, Ahmad Zahid said: “According to her testimony in court, she admitted to being negligent and did not know and various reasons.”
Earlier, Hamidi had asked Ahmad Zahid to verify and read out figures from the balance of his Maybank account from the years 2014 to early 2016, and to compare them to the amount in Yayasan Akalbudi cheques that were paid out during the same period for his and his wife’s credit card bills. The number of cheques issued were 45, including one unsigned cheque.
For all such cheque amounts that he was asked to check against his own bank account’s balance, Ahmad Zahid confirmed that he had enough funds in his account to make the credit card payments.
For example, two Yayasan Akalbudi cheques for the sum of over RM20,000 and over RM19,000 were issued on January 7, 2014 when Ahmad Zahid had more than RM192,000 in his bank account.
The balance in Ahmad Zahid’s bank account was over RM360,000 by the end of June 2014 when a credit card payment of RM100,000 was made using Yayasan Akalbudi funds, with his bank account balance continuing to outstrip the payments for credit card bills.
His bank account balance was more than RM460,000 in December 2014 when credit card payments in cheques of more than RM14,000 and more than RM8,000 were issued, and was more than RM514,000 in January 2015 when cheques of over RM44,000 and RM13,000 were issued, and was over RM596,000 in January 2016 when a cheque of over RM54,000 was issued.
The range of amounts for the credit card payments during the 2014 to 2016 period that were shown to him today were from as little as RM600 to more than RM215,000, while the balance in his bank account in the same period ranged from more than RM191,000 as of early January 2014 to as high as more than RM629,000 in early May 2015.
He also confirmed that he had enough funds in his bank account (more than RM514,000 in January 2015, more than RM624,000 in April 2015, and more than RM596,000 in September 2015) when three Yayasan Akalbudi cheques were issued then to pay for his personal vehicles’ insurance policies and road taxes — which he previously said was done without his approval. The three cheques were for sums of over RM24,000 and over RM43,000 and over RM38,000.
Earlier this week, Ahmad Zahid claimed that Mazlina had used Yayasan Akalbudi cheques to make payments for his personal credit card bills without his knowledge, consent or instruction.
Ahmad Zahid had also claimed that he had never allowed Mazlina to use a stamp of his signature to sign his cheques or to sign cheques for Yayasan Akalbudi where he is the sole signatory, claiming that the signature stamp was only for mass stamping of Hari Raya cards and certificates of appreciation.
Ahmad Zahid had also denied giving permission to Mazlina to use Yayasan Akalbudi cheques for his own personal use.
Today, Ahmad Zahid was also shown a summary of the dates and amount on Yayasan Akalbudi cheques that were used for his credit card payments as compared to the Immigration Department’s records of his movements in and out of Malaysia from 2014 to 2016.
He was also shown the Department of Chemistry Malaysia’s report on its expert’s finding on whether signatures on Yayasan Akalbudi cheques were likely to have been handwritten by Ahmad Zahid or if the signatures were likely to have been stamped on.
Asked about some of the cheques which were said by the chemist report to have likely had stamped signatures, Ahmad Zahid said Mazlina was “not speaking the truth” when she had previously told the court that she would only stamp his signature if he was overseas, adding: “Because she used her discretion to place the chop of my signature although I was in this country.”
He also confirmed multiple other Yayasan Akalbudi cheques which were stamped with his signature were dated when immigration records showed he was in Malaysia and not overseas.
As for Yayasan Akalbudi cheques — such as for credit card payments — which were found to have likely been handwritten by Ahmad Zahid even when Immigration records showed he was likely to not have been in Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid explained that these may have been cheques he had pre-signed for urgent payment to contractors carrying out Yayasan Akalbudi’s projects when he is overseas.
There were also three likely pre-signed Yayasan Akalbudi cheques that were used to pay for Ahmad Zahid’s personal vehicles’ insurance policies and road taxes and other cheques likely to have handwritten signatures for other transactions, while he was in Malaysia.
Earlier this week, Ahmad Zahid had also accused Mazlina of being negligent by using pre-signed Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques for other purposes instead of for the foundation’s charity works.
In this trial, Ahmad 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.
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes this afternoon.