KUALA LUMPUR : Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi could not have committed criminal breach of trust over the use of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds to make a RM1.3 million “donation” to the police’s football team, as this was done to “eradicate poverty”, his lawyer argued in court today (Sept 8).
Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh told the High Court that his client should be acquitted and discharged of criminal breach of trust in relation to the RM1.3 million “donation” to Persatuan Bola Sepak Polis Diraja Malaysia or the police’s football association in November 2015.
At that time, Ahmad Zahid was a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi and had also become the sole signatory for the foundation’s cheques.
Hamidi argued that it was undisputed that Ahmad Zahid was a home minister then and that the police was under his jurisdiction at that time.
He asserted that the donation was necessary because the police’s football association was facing financial difficulties then and the salaries for its football players had been overdue for some time.
He then cited testimony of the 19th prosecution witness Datuk Zul Hisham Zainal who is also Ahmad Zahid’s son-in-law.
Hamidi said Zul Hisham had the intention to use the RM1.3 million cheque solely as a donation to the football association and “essentially to pay the wages of football players in need of financial help”.
Hamidi argued that this RM1.3 million cheque signed off by Ahmad Zahid was for a payment that is allowed by Yayasan Akalbudi’s company constitution, otherwise known as the Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A).
“Our response, other than the fact it was a donation which is allowed by the Memorandum and Articles of Association, there is no criminal breach of trust because the trustees themselves knew about the PDRM Bola Sepak donation, and they knew and they never raised any objections,” he argued, referring to previous court testimony by two other trustees of Yayasan Akalbudi, Muhammad Nabil Salleh and Datuk Khairuddin Tarmizi.
Hamidi said that among other things the M&A allowed for donations to local or national institutions or organisations.
Trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah then said the overall intention has to be to “eradicate poverty”, which is the main objective of Yayasan Akalbudi.
Hamidi argued that this condition was followed.
“But this is poverty, we are talking about a group of football players which have not gotten salary for some time, and eradicating poverty which is poverty of football players. And this problem is real because many football associations, their players are poor because they did not receive salary, because football associations depend on donations.
“So therefore, they went to look for donations and among them are PDRM Bola Sepak to eradicate the poverty of football players of PDRM Bola Sepak, that we submit is in line with the M&A,” he argued.
Hamidi also highlighted the preamble to Yayasan Akalbudi’s company constitution. He said it has a general phrase that would enable the RM1.3 million donation to the football association to fall within the charity’s objectives of helping the poor.
“There is a wording ‘to this end’ at the preamble. The preamble – ‘receive and administer funds for eradication of poverty and enhance welfare of the poor and conduct research for poverty eradication programmes and to this end’. There’s a general term which allows for such donation to be made,” he said.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is also a former deputy prime minister minister and 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.
Hamidi today was arguing to the court on why Ahmad Zahid should be acquitted and discharged of all 12 criminal breach of trust charges.
By : IDA LIM – MALAY MAIL