Defence claims there is no prima facie case for all money-laundering charges against Zahid

The defence argued that the Umno president (centre) should be acquitted of all the money-laundering charges. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

The defence argued that the Umno president (centre) should be acquitted of all the money-laundering charges. (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 30): Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's defence team told the High Court on Tuesday (Nov 30) that there are no prima facie cases with regard to the 27 money-laundering charges that the Umno president is facing.

Senior counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said out of the 27 charges, only eight are predicated in offences which Ahmad Zahid is charged with.

“This is with regard to one criminal breach of trust (CBT) and seven Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission charges. The quality of evidence produced by the prosecution has not shown the predicate offence is proven.

“The prosecution should have identified the most important ingredient in any money-laundering offence, namely they must identify the unlawful activity. In our case, there is none that the prosecution shows that there exists an unlawful activity,” he added.

Hisyam said the threshold in calling that there is a prima facie case with regard to the money-laundering charges had not been passed.

For these reasons, he added that the Umno president should be acquitted of all the money-laundering charges.

Hisyam was making his submissions with regard to Ahmad Zahid's portion of money-laundering charges.

Ahmad Zahid, 68, is on trial to face 47 charges — 12 for CBT, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering — involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation he leads.

In October, Deputy Public Prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong in his submissions raised that Ahmad Zahid never complained about the manner money changer Omar Ali Abdullah converted RM7,511,250.20 into 35 cheques.

The prosecution contended that Omar Ali, being the agent, received the instruction from Ahmad Zahid to convert the RM7,511,250.20 into 35 cheques, which the accused subsequently handed over to Messrs Lewis & Co, a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi belonging to the former deputy prime minister.

Harris Ong further said the monies from the illegal transaction were used to purchase a bungalow in Country Heights, Kajang and also shares.

The prosecution further argued that Ahmad Zahid's money-laundering charges are similar to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, where the former Umno president was found guilty of and which he is appealing against.

Not similar to Najib's case, defence contends

Hisyam, meanwhile, said while it was alleged that the source of the unlawful activity came from Omar Ali, the prosecution failed to put it to the witness (Omar Ali) that the source was illegal money.

“There are no similarities as the prosecution alleges in this case with Najib's case. In fact, we say it is like the north and the south as these are poles apart. For Najib, he was charged with CBT and abuse of power, and the prosecution there had to prove the elements,” Hisyam said.

“The defence contends that there is none here. One of the important elements to show money laundering is that there should be a report lodged with Bank Negara [Malaysia] or the regulatory authorities. Here, there is none,” he said.

Hisyam further showed his cross-examination of a witness from law firm Lewis & Co where the money went into, and it showed that he did not suspect it was illegal money.

“He did not believe it and hence an important element of the said money laundering has not been fulfilled,” the senior lawyer added.

He said that the prosecution's submissions were misplaced to suggest there was money laundering.

Hisyam further said it was also wrong for the prosecution to contend that Omar Ali had also committed an offence, when the prosecution themselves failed to put such a suggestion to the witness.

“Omar Ali clearly did not commit banking offences under the law as he maintained all the accounts. There is no direct evidence to show that the source was illegal money. The position taken by the prosecution is erroneous,” he added.

“The defence emphasises that the threshold for this court to find a prima facie case against my client has not been passed. For these reasons, Ahmad Zahid should be acquitted,” Hisyam said.

The defence is scheduled to complete its submissions on the issue of immunity next Monday, Dec 6. Presiding trial judge Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah has fixed until Dec 8 to hear a reply from the prosecution.

Read also:
Ahmad Zahid’s money laundering case is similar to Najib’s SRC case, court told
Ahmad Zahid orchestrated RM7.5m money laundering scheme, court heard

Surin Murugiah