KUALA LUMPUR: Three MPs from Umno defected to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia after the 14th General Election (GE14) to "save themselves" from being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the High Court here heard.
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, testifying in his corruption trial on Tuesday (June 28), said the three MPs were among those who won in GE14.
Ahmad Zahid did not mention names but said the first individual who defected was the Masjid Tanah MP who is now a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
"I was made to understand that the MP was entrusted with handling GE funds but the money was not utilised for Puteri Umno during the election.
"Instead, the money was taken out and deposited into a different account for personal use, not for the Puteri Umno machinery," he said.
The former deputy prime minister claimed that this was known by the top leadership of Umno and Puteri Umno.
When investigations were about to commence, the individual joined Bersatu, which was part of the Pakatan Harapan government at the time, and so was saved, Ahmad Zahid claimed.
He also claimed that another minister, who is the Jeli MP, was entrusted with the party machinery in Kelantan.
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"Some of the funds were supposed to be used for logistics and to bring (Kelantanese) voters working or living in the Klang Valley to return to Kelantan to cast their votes.
"I was told that RM30mil (meant for the purpose) was not utilised for logistics," he added.
As Ahmad Zahid was about to mention the third MP, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran stood up to object on grounds of hearsay.
She said that the accused should not link the corruption of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB) to any individuals unless those mentioned would be called to testify in court.
“It is hearsay and inadmissible unless they are calling them as witnesses," Raja Rozela said.
Ahmad Zahid's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah that the courtroom was the right place for his client to speak the truth and defend himself.
“He is facing serious charges and must be given the latitude to expand on his defence," he said.
Justice Sequerah then said while he understood the issue of hearsay raised by the prosecution, he would decide on the admissibility of the evidence later.
"At this point in time, I allow some leeway for the defence," he said.
Ahmad Zahid then continued with his testimony and said the third individual was the Bagan Serai MP whose younger brother, a special officer, managed the constituency development funds and abused them.
He claimed the Bagan Serai MP was about to be charged due to the sibling's misappropriation and that he had proof of it.
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.