June 15, 2024

New Malaysia Times

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Law firm did not report RM76.9 mln received from Zahid Hamidi

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — The High Court here today was told that Messrs Lewis & Co did not report to the authorities when it received RM76.9 million from former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, as the law firm thought it was unnecessary.

This was revealed by a partner of the law firm, B. Muralidharan, 62, who said the 92 cheques from Ahmad Zahid for Yayasan Al-Falah were accountable, transparent and could be easily identified.

“A file was opened for this purpose, which means it can be audited internally and externally,” Muralidharan said when cross-examined by lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who was representing Ahmad Zahid, on the 36th day of Ahmad Zahid’s corruption trial.

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The 87th prosecution witness said he found no reason to write to Bank Negara Malaysia or other relevant authorities on any suspicion that the funds were involved in money laundering activities.

Muralidharan agreed with Hisyam that all open transactions were subject to scrutiny.

Hisyam: Open in the sense that they (records pertaining to the cheques) were transparent and can be examined by third parties.

Muralidharan: As far as I am concerned, yes.

Ask whether he agreed that the letter of undertaking he gave to the bank enabled them to verify the location and sources of the funds, the witness answered in the affirmative.

Hisyam: In other words were you satisfied that the funds which came in (client account) were for charitable and benevolent purposes?

Muralidharan: Yes, for charitable and religious purposes.

Meanwhile, the witness agreed that the owners of the cheques could be easily identified from the file opened by the law firm under Yayasan Al-Falah, a charity foundation belonging to Zahid’s family and his younger brother Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi, who was its chairman and trustee.

Muralidharan said Yayasan Al-Falah and Yayasan Akalbudi (owned by Ahmad Zahid) were separate entities; however, he stressed that the Member of Parliament for Bagan Datuk was not his client.   

“He is not our client though the money was sent by him for Al-Falah,” he said.    

Hisyam: Were you taking instruction from a stranger (Zahid)?   

Muralidharan: No.

The witness also agreed with Hisyam who suggested to him that generally a stranger had no capacity to give instruction, but he disagreed when Hisyam said Ahmad Zahid is a stranger.

He added that his law firm did not have a letter saying that Ahmad Zahid was acting for Yayasan Al-Falah when the money came from the accused.

Ahmad Zahid, 67, is facing 27 counts of money laundering, 12 counts of criminal breach of trust involving funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi and eight counts of corruption.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Aug 24.