KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court was told today that two out of the eight corruption charges Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is facing were deemed “defamatory” to the former deputy prime minister.Lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh said that two witnesses – former Datasonic Group Bhd’s directors Chew Ben Ben and Abu Hanifah Noordin – had testified that the RM6 million involved in the two charges was not a reward for Zahid over a government contract to supply passport chips.The contract, said to be through direct negotiation and reportedly worth RM318.75 million, was awarded to Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd in 2016.

The same company had also obtained a government contract to supply Malaysian passports until 2021.

“They affirmed that the RM6 million was a political donation as well as for charity purposes paid to Yayasan Akalbudi. Chew said the RM6 million charges had defamed the accused (Zahid).

“The prosecution did not treat Chew, Hanifah as hostile witnesses for saying so and relied on their testimonies on the two charges,” Hamidi added.

It was alleged that Zahid received RM6 million from Chew on April 26, 2017, as a bribe to award the passport chips project to Datasonic. The RM6 million was paid into law firm Lewis & Co’s account.

Zahid is standing trial on 47 charges of money laundering and CBT involving millions from his foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister under the Najib Razak administration.

Twelve of the charges are for CBT, eight for corruption, and the remaining 27 for money laundering.

Trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah then asked the lawyer why the RM6 million was deposited into the law firm if it was a “political donation”.

“To Hanifah, the meaning of ‘political donation’ and ‘charity’ can be used interchangeably,” Hamidi said.

“But the crucial point is there was no ‘request’ from the accused and he did not play any role in making the decision to award the passport chips contract to Datasonic.”

He added that Datasonic’s passport chips contract was continued after Pakatan Harapan took over the federal government in 2018.

“The company signed a declaration affirming they will not be involved in any corrupt practices over their contract. If they were found to have breached any condition, the contract would be terminated,” Hamidi said, adding that the passport chips contract was never terminated over any wrongdoing.

The hearing continues tomorrow.