Ex-secretary assumed Zahid gave blanket approval to stamp signature on charity’s cheques for credit card bills, admits clerical mistakes

KUALA LUMPUR : Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s former executive secretary today told the court that she had assumed the former minister’s approval to use a stamp for his signature on charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques to pay for his credit card bills was not for a one-off occasion, but a blanket approval.

Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly, who was testifying as the 90th prosecution witness in Zahid’s corruption trial, however also conceded making mistakes in the preparation of some of the cheques, including overpaying as well as writing the wrong month for the date of one cheque.null

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex August 28, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex August 28, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Mazlina today maintained her previous testimony that she had used a stamp of Zahid’s signature on the Yayasan Akalbudi cheques to pay for the credit card bills of Zahid and his wife to avoid the banks from blocking the cards’ usage due to late payment, and when she could not ask Zahid to personally sign the cheques due to him being out of office and his busy schedule.

During cross-examination, Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal suggested: “I say to you, Datuk Seri Zahid never at any time gave his approval to use the signature ‘chop’ on Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques”, but Mazlina disagreed with this suggestion.

While agreeing that the “chop” or stamp of Zahid’s signature was meant for certificates or invitation letters, Mazlina insisted that Zahid had approved the use of the stamp for the cheques.null

Referring to Mazlina’s previous court testimony that Zahid had said “okay” and approved the use of his signature stamp for cheques for the credit card bills, Zaidi then went on to suggest that such approval was only “one-off” but Mazlina disagreed.

Mazlina confirmed she could not recall which cheque was the one that Zahid had directly approved for the use of the signature stamp.

Zaidi then asked why Mazlina thought that Zahid’s approval for the signature stamp’s use was a blanket approval, she then said this was due to a “clear” instruction which she presumed to be a blanket approval.

Zaidi: So you presume it is a blanket approval?

Mazlina: Yes.

Zaidi: And that is your presumption?

Mazlina: Yes.

Previously, Mazlina said she had asked Zahid for his approval the first time she used his signature stamp for the cheques, and that this was when he was the home minister.

Mazlina today confirmed that she was free to use the stamp of Zahid’s signature on Yayasan Akalbudi cheques from 2014, and that she would ask Zahid to personally sign the cheques if he is in office instead of using the stamp.

Zaidi quizzed Mazlina whether she knew that banks cannot accept or honour any cheques with stamped signature unless the account holder issues a special resolution, for which she  said she did not know of this.

Asked by Zaidi if she knew that Yayasan Akalbudi had never made any special resolutions or given any specimen of signature stamps to the bank to allow the use of the stamp for its account, Mazlina similarly said she had no knowledge of this.

Having highlighted Zahid’s experience in the banking industry including as chairman of Bank Simpanan Nasional before he joined the government, Zaidi then suggested that the former minister would not have approved the use of his signature stamp on the Yayasan Akalbudi cheques.

Zaidi: Based on those questions ― experienced banker, no resolution and so on ― if I say it is not logical if Datuk Seri Zahid as a former senior banker allowed you to use a stamp to stamp signatures on those cheques.

Mazlina: Disagreed.

Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

In this trial, Zahid ― who is a former deputy prime minister and a former home minister and also 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.

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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