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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Letter sent directly to Zahid for faster contract extension, says witness

 

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is on trial on charges of receiving bribes relating to the One-Stop Centre in China and the Foreign Visa System. (Bernama pic)

SHAH ALAM: The High Court was told today that Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) sent letters relating to contract extension directly to former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to speed up the process.

UKSB director Fadzil Ahmad said if the letters were handed to subordinates, the company was worried that the contract extension process would take a long time.

“The contract extension process needed to be presented at the ministry level, but the decision was made by the minister (Zahid), that’s why we at UKSB decided to send the letters to the minister.

“We used a top-down approach so that the process would be implemented immediately,” he said in response to an additional question during the main examination by deputy public prosecutor Zander Lim.

On why UKSB needed to send the letters to Zahid, who was home minister at the time, Fadzil replied: “Approval to extend the contract was under the purview of the minister.”

Yesterday, while reading his witness statement, the 41st prosecution witness told the court that the company sent seven letters to Zahid between 2016 and 2017 regarding the Foreign Visa System (VLN) to secure support, conditional application and approval.

Fadzil also told the court today that another UKSB director, Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani, was the person responsible for handing the company’s letters to Zahid.

“Wan Quoris Shah’s scope of assignments included ensuring the UKSB letters were sent to then home minister Zahid.

“I prepared (the letters), then I would hand them to Wan Quoris Shah to be passed to the home minister’s office, but I’m not sure if he handed it directly or not,” he said.

The 10th prosecution witness, former home ministry immigration affairs division secretary Shahril Ismail, had previously told the court that Wan Quoris Shah met with Zahid at the Umno president’s residence in Seri Satria, Putrajaya, before a decision to extend the contract was made.

Fadzil said the company sent a letter dated June 14, 2017, to Zahid to change the contract extension application from six years to three years to avoid going through the Public-Private Partnership Unit (UKAS).

“The change was made after realising that it would take a long time to get approval from UKAS for a six-year extension. So, we made the decision to shorten the extension period and not be subjected to UKAS’s approval,” he explained.

Zahid, 69, is facing 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from UKSB as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant and the then home minister to extend the contract of the company as the operator of the 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.

For another seven counts, Zahid is charged as home minister to have obtained for himself S$1.15 million, RM3 million, €15,000 and US$15,000 in cash from the same company in connection with his official work.

He is alleged to have committed all the acts at Seri Satria and at Country Heights in Kajang between October 2014 and March 2018.

The trial before judge Yazid Mustafa resumes on May 17. - FMT

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