Zahid claims trial to another 33 corruption charges
Ho Kit Yen - June 27, 2019 10:01 AM
SHAH ALAM: Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed trial at the Sessions Court here today to the remaining 33 corruption charges over the home ministry’s contract for the foreign visa system.
Zahid, who was also home minister under the Najib Razak administration, was accused of receiving more than RM42.7 million in bribes from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd. The money was said to be an inducement for Zahid to extend the contract of the company, which is handling the government’s overseas visa system (VLN) and one-stop centre in China.
Zahid was accused of receiving the money at Country Heights, Kajang between October 2014 and July 2017. He was also accused under Section 165 of the Penal Code of receiving as a public servant something of value from persons whom he knew to have interest in a business transaction with his then-ministry. If found guilty of corruption under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, he faces a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of bribe received. The maximum penalty for offences under Section 165 is two years’ imprisonment and a fine. Zahid previously claimed trial to 47 charges filed against him between November and February for alleged criminal breach of trust involving his family-run foundation Yayasan Akal Budi, money laundering as well as accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure in the home ministry.
Yesterday, he was slapped with seven more corruption charges amounting to S$4.24 million. He now faces a total of 87 charges. Deputy public prosecutor Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar told the court the prosecution would offer Zahid bail of RM1 million with one bailor.
However, his lawyer Kitson Foong said the amount was too high.
“This bail is not meant to determine the sentence at the end of the trial,” he said, adding that Zahid should be allowed bail of RM500,000. He also said Zahid had posted RM200,000 in bail for his seven charges yesterday. Judge Rozina Salleh then ordered Zahid to pay bail of RM500,000 with one surety.
She told Zahid’s proposed bailor, Sheikh Rozi, that he is responsible for ensuring Zahid’s attendance at every case mention. “The court will issue a show-cause notice if the bailor cannot provide an explanation for any absence from court,” she said. The court set July 29 for next mention. Foong told reporters later that Zahid would let the legal process run its full course. “It is not our stand for the accused to give statements to the media while awaiting trial,” he said. “And we are not taking to social media to disclose our defences.” He added that Zahid remains optimistic despite currently having the highest number of criminal charges among Umno leaders. “He is not anywhere near being convicted,” he said.