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Friday, August 14, 2020

Witness admits no proof of Zahid’s orders to deposit RM77m cheques

Malaysiakini

ZAHID TRIAL | After previously testifying that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had instructed him to deposit 92 cheques worth almost RM77 million to a foundation belonging to his kin, a witness admitted today that he had no proof of such instructions.
B Muralidharan, a partner at law firm Messrs Lewis & Co, told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that no such instructions were recorded in the ledger book he kept on his client Yayasan Al-Falah.
Also not recorded were Zahid’s alleged orders to convert most of the cheques into 28 fixed deposits.
He said so when cross-examined by defence counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik.
Hisyam: You told His Lordship that Datuk Seri (Zahid) told you to open a file under the name of Yayasan Al-Falah. Do you have any letters to show that Datuk Seri gave you this instruction to open a file under Yayasan Al-Falah?
Muralidharan: No, My Lord, I do not.
Hisyam: Any notations in the file that Datuk Seri gave you instructions to say that once the cheques are cleared, it must be put in monies in fixed deposits for Yayasan Al-Falah?
Muralidharan: Not in the file, My Lord.
He disagreed when Hisyam suggested that he (Muralidharan) had proposed the idea instead of Zahid.
Muralidharan previously told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that Zahid told him to deposit all cheques to Yayasan Al-Falah, a foundation helmed by his younger stepbrother Mohamad Nasee Ahmad Tarmizi @ Hamidi.
He said Zahid had instructed him to open a bank account for the foundation, deposit money into it and open a ledger on Yayasan Al-Falah to record all transactions.
Muralidharan is the 87th witness in the former deputy prime minister’s criminal trial in relation to funds belonging to the foundation the latter solely owns, Yayasan Akalbudi.
The Umno president is facing 47 charges - 12 for alleged criminal breach of trust, 27 for money laundering and eight for corruption.
Zahid is accused of misappropriating RM31 million from Yayasan Akalbudi to pay personal credit card bills, road tax for his personal vehicles and purchase motor insurance policies.
He is also accused of instructing Lewis & Co to deposit cheques into a client’s account and to convert a large sum of the funds into fixed deposits in the law firm’s name. He is further accused of purchasing two bungalows worth a total of RM5.9 million with the money.
Taking instructions from a stranger
Meanwhile, Muralidharan (below) testified that Zahid was not a member on the board of trustees of Yayasan Al-Falah neither did he have any connection to it.
Hisyam: In other words, you were taking instructions from a legal stranger? Yes or no?
Muralidharan: No
Hisyam said Muralidharan’s answer “defied logic” and was “not legal in law” as his statements showed he had taken instructions from someone who had no connection to his client - Yayasan Al-Falah.
Muralidharan repeatedly disagreed with Hisyam on this point.
When asked if his law firm had been “satisfied” with Zahid’s explanation that the RM77 million was for “religious and welfare” purposes, Muralidharan said yes.
He admitted he had never written any letters to the bank, Bank Negara Malaysia or the authorities to report his suspicion that the funds had originated from illegal activities.
Hisyam: In other words, you were satisfied that the funds were legal and did not break any laws?
Muralidharan: Yes, My Lord.
Hisyam then proposed that Muralidharan had mistakenly called Yayasan Al-Falah his client, pointing to several previous witnesses who testified, saying the RM77 million was meant for Zahid’s Yayasan Akalbudi.
Muralidharan disagreed.
Hisyam referred to Faisalludin Mohamad Yusuff’s testimony where the Yayasan Al-Falah board of trustees member said he had no knowledge that Lewis & Co had made fixed deposits on behalf of the foundation.
Hisyam: Do you find the statement strange (since it is) from a trustee of Yayasan Al-Falah, a trustee of your client? Do you find strange this statement made by a trustee of your client that ‘I have no knowledge that your firm holds fixed deposits for Yayasan Al-Falah’?
Muralidharan: Yes, I find it strange, My Lord.
Hisyam: I put to you, you find it strange (because) the funds, in fact, belong to Yayasan Akalbudi?
Muralidharan: No, My Lord, I disagree.
The direct examination was earlier conducted by deputy public prosecutors Raja Rozela Raja Toran, Lee Keng Fatt, Gan Peng Kun and Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Cross-examination on Muralidharan will resume on Aug 24.  - Mkini

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