KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — The lead lawyer in Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s criminal breach of trust trial today accused the prosecution of playing games with the defence by repeatedly raising allegedly contradicting statements made by its witnesses to anti-corruption investigators based on documents that were never tendered to the court.
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo was especially cross with Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin’s methods to discredit two defence witnesses today.
He said the prosecution has been painting the defence witnesses as not credible by accusing them of contradictions in their statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) during the investigation, but had yet to present the documents in the trial.
He added that the defence has yet to receive the documents despite repeated requests, including in writing.
The two defence witnesses who were called to testify in the High Court today were Mohamed Amshar Aziz, a former aide to the Muar MP, and Siti Nurul Hidayah, Syed Saddiq’s former personal secretary.
Both witnesses testified that money that was transferred from the Bersatu Armada bank accounts into Syed Saddiq’s personal Maybank accounts were for the use of the latter alone.
They maintained under questioning that all the money they had helped raise for Syed Saddiq was meant for his personal use and not for the Bersatu, or Armada, the political party’s Youth wing.
Under questioning from the prosecution, Amshar, was repeatedly asked if he had contradicted himself in his witness statement to the court and in statements to the MACC.
Wan Shaharudin suggested to Amshar that he told the MACC that he wasn’t sure if Syed Saddiq used his own money first for any fundraisers.
The DPP said that in his witness statement to the court, Amshar had expressed confidence that the accused used his own money before getting a reimbursement from the funds raised.
But Amshar replied that he had explained a different timeline of events in his statement to the MACC compared to his witness statement to the court.
“They were two different timelines so it’s not fair for me to give an answer. It’s not fair the way the question is put to me.
“When I spoke to MACC it was a different form of questioning in a different context and was not similar to the context you’re asking me here today.
“What I can say is Syed Saddiq had used his own money first for the fundraising events and campaigning since 2018. He also spent tons on posters, banners, brochures, buntings and flags as well as paying for accommodation and so on during the campaign period for the 14th general elections,” Amshar told the court.
Gobind stood up and objected to the prosecution’s questioning.
“Yang Arif, my learned friend, should be precise with his questions. Not only have we been asking for these statements to MACC but they were still not given to us. Last time he stood up and said if we asked we would get them but till today nothing.
“Then when we come here they bring up all sorts of applications that we need to put in to get this evidence’ so we are coming into court with our hands tied behind our backs,” Gobind told Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid who was presiding over the case.
Wan Shaharuddin argued that the prosecution was not compelled to give the defence the full transcripts of the witnesses’ because certain conditions had not been met.
He also argued that it was too late for the defence witnesses to change their statements.
He told the court that he was challenging Amshar’s and Syed Saddiq’s testimonies and said it was because the duo were not trustworthy.
Gobind objected to this assertion.
“We are not changing anything. Don’t simply make accusations. The prosecution has no case, so be consistent. We asked for the documents and we didn’t get them.
“The MACC thinks they can use all powers the way they want to and get away with it. If you don’t want to give us the statements, say so, be a man about it,” he told Wan Shaharuddin.
When the second defence witness Siti took the stand, she testified that it was her belief that all money raised from the fundraising events were for Syed Saddiq’s personal campaigning for the Muar constituency at GE14.
She said Syed Saddiq’s campaign team initially wanted to use a personal account for the collections but decided against it.
She explained that if they had used a personal account, it could be frozen when plenty of transactions happened.
“If a lot of transactions are happening in a personal account, sometimes they may block it then it would make it extremely difficult to withdraw the money.
“So we registered as Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise and used that for collections once Rafiq emptied the account. That way we know exactly how much went in,” she testified, and referred to another witness called Rafiq Hakim Razali.
“To make sure every cent was spent properly I asked for receipts for expenditures and the cost for the Makan Amal Muar fundraiser cost RM30,000 as I was the one who made the payments,” she said.
During her testimony, Siti also told the court that the MACC had adopted a heavy-handed approach when they questioned her and even threatened her.
“When MACC began their investigations an officer called Mohd Ishan Supian called me to give my statement at MACC headquarters. He said he was the investigating officer for this case.
“I was then threatened and handled in a rough manner by the officers which made me make a police report. In my police statement I highlighted the heavy handed ways the MACC officers used and the threats they made to me,” Siti said.
Syed Saddiq is charged with abetting the party’s assistant treasurer Rafiq in committing CBT of the wing’s funds amounting to RM1 million.
Syed Saddiq allegedly withdrew RM1 million via a CIMB Bank Bhd cheque without obtaining prior permission from the Bersatu supreme leadership council.
He was later slapped with a second charge of misappropriating RM120,000 belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise in Maybank Islamic Berhad for his own use, which allegedly resulted in Rafiq disposing of the money.
The RM120,000 were apparently political contributions for the GE14 campaign raised through a Maybank Islamic Berhad account belonging to Armada Bumi Bersatu Enterprise at Maybank Islamic Berhad, Jalan Pandan 3/6A, Taman Pandan Jaya between April 8 and 21, 2018.
For these charges under Section 403 of the Penal Code, Syed Saddiq faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a fine if found guilty.
On August 5, 2021, Syed Saddiq was hit with two charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).
He was accused of engaging in money laundering activities, namely two transactions of RM50,000 each from his Maybank Islamic Berhad account into his Amanah Saham Bumiputera account, which is believed to be proceeds from illegal activities.
The trial resumes tomorrow morning.