KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today denied committing criminal breach of trust involving RM17,953,185.21 of Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) funds and instead claimed that he transferred the money to a legal firm because his former executive secretary was prone to making mistakes in handling money.
This amount of the funds involved the sixth of 12 charges of criminal breach of trust the former deputy prime minister is facing.
Ahmad Zahid, 69, told the High Court that he appointed Lewis & Co to handle the funds of the foundation owned by him because Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly had been careless in managing his personal money and YAB funds.
“My Lord, as I said earlier in my statement, Mazlina had committed mistakes on many occasions, including writing a figure different from the amount spelled out in cheques and not sending monthly credit card statements and other documents when asked.
“The transfer of the foundation’s funds to the legal firm was not for misappropriation but for the firm to manage the client account of the foundation as the firm has officers who are skilled in managing this account,” he added.
Ahmad Zahid said this when questioned by lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal on the fourth day of his defence proceedings involving 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.
According to Ahmad Zahid, he had many times advised and guided Mazlina, the 90th prosecution witness, as she did not have an accounting background.
“She (Mazlina) merely apologised but repeated these acts. What choice did I have other than finding ways to transfer the whole of Yayasan Akalbudi funds in a bank (Affin Bank) current account to a legal firm with an accountant, accounting officer and bookkeeper to handle the client account?” he said.
Asked by Ahmad Zaidi why he chose Lewis & Co to handle YAB funds, Ahmad Zahid said an officer at the Home Ministry had introduced him to lawyers at Lewis & Co.
On the transfer of YAB funds to Lewis & Co, Ahmad Zahid said he personally instructed Affin Bank to transfer RM17,953,185.21 from the bank to the client account of Lewis & Co, and that money still belonged to YAB and did not belong to Yayasan Al Falah, the legal firm or other people.
Ahmad Zahid also said he had never directed Mazlina to use YAB funds totalling RM107,509.55 to pay vehicle insurance and licence fees.
“I did not know Mazlina would use pre-signed cheques to make payments for insurance policies and licences of privately owned vehicles.
“Cheques which I pre-signed were for urgent use like paying contractors for construction work undertaken by the foundation at the time or urgent payments which needed to be settled when I was overseas,” he said.
During the prosecution stage, the court was told that Ahmad Zahid and his family took out 39 insurance policies for 20 vehicles owned by the family, including 18 luxury vehicles belonging to him, such as BMW X5, Mini Cooper S, Mercedes Benz CLS350, BMW 320i (A), Toyota Land Cruiser and BMW R1200 GS motorcycle.
Ahmad Zahid is on trial over 47 criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering charges involving YAB funds.
On Jan 24, the court ordered Ahmad Zahid to enter his defence against all charges after finding that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against him.
The trial before Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues. - Bernama