Lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, in closing the case for the defence, told High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that crucial witnesses on Zahid’s eight corruption charges – Junaith Asharab Md Shariff, Abu Hanifah Noordin, Chew Ben Ben and Azlan Shah Jaffril – had told the court that money given to Yayasan Akalbudi was a donation.
“It is clear that they knew the money was a donation and meant for charity or political purposes.
“They affirmed the payments were not meant to be exchanged for government contracts.
“We find it strange why charges were filed, unless the prosecution can cite a case law that has similar facts … where a person is charged for corruption with witnesses saying the money was not a form of ‘bribe’,” he said.
Hisyam affirmed that donation was not illegal under the law, even after Sequerah pointed out that under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, political donation is listed as a form of gratification.
“The prosecution must prove the reason why the payment was made, whether it is innocent or otherwise,” Hisyam said.
Zahid is standing trial on 47 charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving millions from Yayasan Akalbudi and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as home minister.
Twelve of the charges are for CBT, eight for corruption and the remaining 27 for money laundering.
Sequerah then said the prosecution took the position that the facts in Zahid’s case showed that government contracts were awarded to several companies and subsequently money was said to be paid to the accused as a reward.
Sequerah: Could an inference be made from the facts?
Hisyam: When there is direct evidence from the witnesses (on the purpose of the payment), the court cannot make an inference on why the money was paid.
Hisyam told the court earlier that RM2 million from Azlan Shah, a director of Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd, was for charity. The company operates the one-stop centre to process work permits for Pakistani and Nepali workers.
He said the company cheque stubs mentioned the payment, made through three cheques, as “political fund” and “charity”.
The hearing continues tomorrow, with deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran starting her submission.