YAB funds came from contributions, not proceeds from illegal activities, says Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM65mil funds from Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) that went into a fixed deposit account at Messrs Lewis & Co came from the contributions of individuals and corporate bodies, the High Court was told.

Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the funds that were given to YAB - a charity foundation he established - were meant for charity purposes.

"I stress that the funds were not proceeds from illegal activities as defined under the Anti-Money Laundering Act," he said here on Monday (June 27).

The Umno president also testified that he had never instructed any lawyers or staff from the law firm Lewis & Co, including its clerk V. Sothilechmy, to deposit the funds into a fixed deposit (FD) account between 2016 and 2017.

Ahmad Zahid, who was reading from his witness statement, said Sothilechmy had testified in court that she received instructions to do so (depositing the money into an FD account from lawyer B. Muralidharan of Lewis & Co).

"When I appointed Lewis & Co to manage the funds of YAB, Muralidharan told me that he would manage it by opening a fixed deposit account for YAB to earn interest.

"He said he would do so legally," Ahmad Zahid said.

Ahmad Zahid also denied ever giving instructions to Muralidharan to make a payment of RM5.9mil for two bungalow lots in Country Heights, Kajang, from the FD account.

"I have never given such instruction to Muralidharan because the funds from YAB were managed by Muralidharan using his absolute discretion.

"As a person who has control over the funds, he (Muralidharan) has knowledge of the monetary transactions involving the client's account, as well as the absolute discretion to determine how much funds go into the FD account," Ahmad Zahid added.

He also denied that the RM5.9mil were proceeds from illegal activities.

The purchase of the two bungalow lots was for two buildings on it that were turned into a tahfiz centre, he added.

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 YAB.

The hearing continues before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah Tuesday (June 28).

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