Ex-secretary says Zahid approved use of charity’s cheques to pay credit cards, but told to stop after MACC probe

KUALA LUMPUR : Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had permitted the use of cheques from charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi to pay for his personal credit card bills and had also allowed the stamping of his signatures on the cheques, his former executive secretary told the court today.null

Testifying as the 90th prosecution witness, Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly today testified in her former boss Zahid’s trial over alleged criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Mazlina said that she recalled Zahid telling her in 2016 in the Home Ministry’s office to stop using cheques from Yayasan Akalbudi’s account to pay for his personal credit card bills, as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was investigating the matter.

“The last time I used Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques to pay credit cards was in early 2016. As far as I remember, at that time, Datuk Seri ordered me not to use Yayasan Akalbudi cheques anymore to pay for credit cards as it was said that the MACC has started conducting investigations.null

“I did not ask further. I was asked to pay for the credit cards using cash,” she said in her witness statement today, later explaining that she had received the cash from Zahid to pay for subsequent credit card statements.

Evidence brought in court had previously shown that Zahid is a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi.

The use of Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques

Mazlina said she had worked as Zahid’s executive secretary for around seven years from December 9, 2011 to May 2018, covering his stints as defence minister, home minister and deputy prime minister.

When she first took up the post in December 2011, Mazlina said her predecessor Datuk Rosiah Osman had informed her that her tasks included handling Zahid’s personal bills.

Mazlina said Rosiah had handed her Yayasan Akalbudi’s file, Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheque book under Affin Bank, Yayasan Akalbudi’s official stamp, a stamp with Zahid’s signature, as well as a Maybank cheque book under Zahid’s name, with Mazlina further noting that she then kept the cheque books received in a locked drawer.

Mazlina said she had used Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques with Zahid’s approval for various purposes, namely paying his personal credit card bills, vehicle insurance and road tax for Zahid’s vehicles, a payment to the Persatuan Bolasepak PDRM and two companies.

Credit card payments

Mazlina said Zahid had four credit cards with AmIslamic Bank with two supplementary cards under his wife’s name, as well as two credit cards with Maybank and one American Express credit card under his own name.

“Throughout the time I worked with Datuk Seri, I prepared cheques to pay his personal credit card bills using Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques. I did so with Datuk Seri’s permission,” she said, further noting that all such cheques that she had prepared for the monthly credit card payments were not pre-signed by Zahid.

Mazlina said that she would present the Yayasan Akalbudi cheques along with the monthly credit card statements to Zahid each time when seeking for his signature on the cheques, noting Zahid’s meticulous scrutiny of the cheques before affixing his signature with his own pen — usually in black ink — while she remained present.

“Each time I presented Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques that I have filled in for the payment of the credit card bills, Datuk Seri never questioned me why I used Yayasan cheques. Datuk Seri also never questioned me on why I did not use his personal cheques, that is the Maybank account,” she testified today.

The use of Zahid’s stamped signature

Mazlina said she started using a “chop” or stamping Zahid’s signature in Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques around 2014 but only for his personal credit card bills and when he was not present in the office, saying however that she had started doing so only after seeking Zahid’s permission.

Mazlina noted Zahid’s busier schedule as home minister and deputy prime minister compared to his time as defence minister and with him frequently out of the area and also abroad, saying it was hard for her to meet him to seek his instructions.

Mazlina also said she frequently received the monthly credit card statements after the deadline to pay as the bills were not sent directly to her desk, noting that she was worried that late payment would cause the use of Zahid and his wife’s credit cards to be blocked and cause inconvenience to them, especially when they were abroad.

“So to avoid any inconvenience to Datuk Seri or Datin Seri, I asked for Datuk Seri’s permission to use his signature chop. Datuk Seri agreed and said okay,” she said.

Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah is expected to resume this afternoon.

BY : IDA LIM – MALAY MAIL

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