KUALA LUMPUR: A witness "singlehandedly buried" the prosecution's case against Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi by testifying that the RM6mil he gave was meant for charitable and political donations, the High Court heard.
Lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh, representing Ahmad Zahid in a corruption trial involving millions from charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi, said 34th prosecution witness Chew Ben Ben had testified that he did not bribe or reward the accused for Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd (DTSB) getting a contract.
Hamidi was submitting in respect of Charges 14 and 15, where Ahmad Zahid was accused of receiving RM5mil and RM1mil from Chew, who was then Datasonic Group Bhd deputy managing director.
The monies were allegedly a reward for having DTSB appointed to supply Malaysian passport chips for five years through direct negotiation between the company and the Home Ministry, of which Ahmad Zahid was minister at the time.
The lawyer said it was not unusual for DTSB to be awarded government contracts as the company had established its own reputation and standing in executing government contracts over the years.
He said this fact was supported by testimony from 32nd prosecution witness Datuk Abu Hanifah Noordin (SP32), who was then Datasonic Group Bhd CEO, who stated that Datasonic Group and DTSB had been granted some 30 government projects.
Abu Hanifah testified that since Datasonic Group was listed on Bursa Malaysia, the government projects it received were valued in the region of RM3bil.
"The reward of another contract to DTSB should not trigger any suspicion, as DTSB has its own expertise and experience in performing the works required of them," Hamidi said.
The lawyer further submitted that Chew had also testified during cross-examination that both Charges 14 and 15 were "fitnah" (slander).
Describing Chew as the "single most important witness" for the prosecution in both Charges 14 and 15, Hamidi said the witness' evidence had disputed both the charges and he was mentioned in both the charges as the "giver" of the gratification.
At this point, High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah asked counsel if the witness would be exposing himself if he had agreed corrupt practices existed.
"Wouldn't he be inclined to distance himself?" the judge asked.
Hamidi replied that the defence submitted there was no corruption and that the witness had come to court and testified it was fitnah.
"When they give the money, they did not intend to give it as corrupt money," he added.
The judge also questioned why the RM6mil, the sum mentioned in Charges 14 and 15, was banked into Yayasan Akalbudi when it was meant as a political donation.
Hamidi replied that SP32, who gave the money, had viewed it as both a political donation as well as an act of charity.
Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges – 12 for criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.
The hearing continues before Justice Sequerah on Tuesday (Sept 21).