RM65mil was for charity, says Ahmad Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM65mil in 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 has heard.

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 testified yesterday.

The Umno president said he had never instructed any lawyer or staffer from the law firm, 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 (deposit 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,” he added.

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 instructions 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 has knowledge of the monetary transactions involving the client’s account as well as the absolute discretion to determine how much goes into the FD account,” he added.

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

The purchase of the two bungalow lots were 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 today.

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