Zahid Hamidi took advantage of position to reap monetary benefits for himself, court told as trial kicks off today

SHAH ALAM : Former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took advantage of his position to reap monetary benefits for himself, prosecutors in Zahid’s Foreign Visa System (VLN) corruption trial told the High Court today (May 24).

In the prosecution’s opening statement, Deputy Public Prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran contended that Zahid received bribes in the form of various foreign currencies from a local company, Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd.

Raja Rozela, who is also leading the prosecution, added that the accused accepted the bribes as payment and inducement to maintain or extend UKSB’s appointment contract with the government for services rendered to the Home Ministry.

Zahid was home minister under the former Barisan Nasional coalition government from May 2013 until May 2018, with his ministry also overseeing the Immigration Department.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Shah Alam High Court May 24, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrives at the Shah Alam High Court May 24, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

“Throughout his four-year tenure as minister at the Home Ministry, the accused took advantage of his position to reap monetary benefits for himself.

“The accused received bribes involving cash of various currencies — 14.71 million Singapore Dollars, RM3.125 million, 15,000 US Dollars and 5,000 Euros,” she told High Court judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa.

Raja Rozela said the prosecution aims to prove the link between UKSB’s appointment as a contractor with the fact that the accused received bribes from the aforementioned company.

“The accused was both involved and had knowledge of UKSB’s appointment as a contractor. The prosecution will present oral testimonies and documentary evidence to prove this fact.

“All of the testimonies to be presented in court will prove a prima facie case against the accused of the offences committed as stipulated in the respective criminal charges,” she said.

She also said the prosecution aims to call at least 20 witnesses for the trial.

This will be the Umno president’s second trial following the ongoing hearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court in which he is facing 47 criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering charges involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

In this VLN case, Ahmad Zahid pleaded not guilty to 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant then as home minister to extend the contract of company as the operator of One Stop Centre (OSC) in China and the VLN system as well as to maintain the agreement to supply VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the Home Ministry.

He allegedly committed the offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and in Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.

The Bagan Datuk MP also pleaded not guilty to 33 alternative charges under Section 165 of the Penal Code as home minister for receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million in relation to the VLN system between 2014 and 2017.

For another seven charges, Ahmad Zahid was charged as home minister for accepting S$1,150,000, RM3,000,000, €15,000 (RM75,663) and US$15,000 (RM62,115) in cash from the same company which he knew had connection with his function as then home minister.

He was charged with committing the offences at a house in Country Heights, between June 2015 and October 2017, under Section 165 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail term of two years or fine or both if found guilty

By : KENNETH TEE – MALAY MAIL

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