AHMAD Zahid Hamidi told the High Court today that funds of RM65 million from Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) which he allegedly received and transferred to the fixed deposit accounts of a law firm were not illegal money.
Instead, funds received by check were charitable contributions from individuals and corporations, he added.
“I would like to emphasize that the funds did not come from illegal activities as defined by the Anti-Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Proceeds of Illegal Proceeds Act 2001).”
Zahid, 69, said this as he read his witness statement while defending himself against 47 charges of bribery, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgits of YAB funds.
The former Deputy Prime Minister said he also did not order a lawyer or an employee, including Registrar V. Sothilechmy of MM. Lewis & Co, to deposit money in term accounts.
Sothilechmy confirmed in court that he was instructed by attorney B. Muralidharan to deposit the funds in fixed deposit accounts, he added.
“When I appointed Messrs. Lewis & Co to manage the YAB funds, Muralidharan told me that he would manage the funds by opening fixed deposit accounts for the foundation to earn interest. He told me that he had to do it according to the law.
Zahid said he never instructed Muralidharan to make the payment for the purchase of two plots of bungalow land at Country Heights, Kajang for RM5.9 million.
“Muralidharan controls the management of YAB funds and knows the transactions of money movements in client accounts. Muralidharan also has the discretion to determine the amount of funds required to be posted to term deposit accounts. »
Zahid said the RM5.9 million withdrawn from fixed deposit accounts was intended to pay for two plots of land for a Quran study center, not money derived from illegal activities.
He also said that he never asked money changer Omar Ali Abdullah to exchange more than RM7.5 million in cash for 35 cheques.
“When Omar Ali was called to testify in court, he said he took the initiative to convert cash contributions into cheques.
“When I met him to discuss depositing cash into Messrs. Lewis & Co’s client account, Omar Ali told me that he would use his own initiative to convert the cash into multiple cheques.
“Therefore, I would like to point out that the sources of cash managed by Omar Ali are the contributions and donations of Yayasan Al-Bukhary. I also specify that the treasury managed by Omar Ali is not money coming from illegal activities.
The prosecution, in an earlier opening statement, said the money laundering charge could be proven by showing that Zahid had received several checks worth around RM65 million from known people and unknown to him.
The trial continues tomorrow. – Bernama, June 27, 2022.