KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — Former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today denied that he had ever made any promises to a businessman — with supposedly rich in-laws — to help procure projects under listed firm MyEG Services Berhad.
Ahmad Zahid said this while testifying in his own defence in a corruption trial, where he is accused of having received RM13.25 million in bribes via 24 cheques from businessman Junaith Asharab Md Shariff from July 2016 to February 2017 as alleged inducement to help obtain MyEG projects purportedly under the Home Ministry’s purview then.
Ahmad Zahid insisted that he did not promise to award MyEG projects to Junaith Asharab after the 14th general election, and stressed that it was his younger brother Datuk Seri Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi who knew Junaith Asharab well and was close to the businessman.
“Who was the one who promised? I never promised. MyEG is not under me. If somebody else promised him, it’s got nothing to do with me. In this matter, I said just now, the one who knows him well is my younger brother.
“If my younger brother wants to find money to help in the construction and so on, that is my younger brother’s effort to find funds, so it is not fair to say that I know Junaith because I promised contracts for MyEG. Yang Arif, I wish to deny it,” he replied.
Earlier, Ahmad Zahid denied knowing any of the three companies — Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services, Jogabonito Jewellery & Diamond, Berani & Jujur Trading — which were involved in the transactions or issuance of the RM13.25 million cheques to Lewis & Co’s client account and with such cheques handed over by Junaith Asharab.
Ahmad Zahid has been claiming that Lewis & Co is the law firm holding money on trust for his charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Afif Ali today suggested that Mastoro Kenny was formed to obtain MyEG projects, further suggesting that this was because Junaith Asharab had allegedly been promised the award of MyEG projects when he had met with Ahmad Zahid regarding the purported donation for the construction of mosque and a tahfiz school.
“Yang Arif, first of all, I do not know this Jogabonito or whatever jewellery company, I do not know. MyEG is not under me directly or indirectly, how could I promise them to furnish them with such project? MyEG, they are not under my control. Probably they are getting about 10 per cent of the total contract awarded to them by MOF. It is not from us; I do not know.”
Asked to confirm that he did not have knowledge about the matter, Ahmad Zahid firmly said he did not know, noting that he only knew about it when he was asked by the investigating officer and when the matter was brought to court.
For the company Berani & Jujur, Ahmad Zahid said he only got to know about this company during this criminal case, and also said he had no knowledge that this company belongs to Junaith Asharab.
Ahmad Zahid said he had never heard of businessman M. Kumaraguru M. Muthusamy.
Kumaraguru’s Jogabonito was used to issue a RM250,000 cheque to Lewis & Co’s client account as handed over by Junaith Asharab, and Kumaraguru had also followed Junaith Asharab’s request in 2016 to set up Mastoro Kenny as the latter claimed to be able to obtain projects from MyEG. Kumaraguru previously told the court that Mastoro Kenny never received any projects from MyEG or anyone since its formation until it closed down in 2018.
Today, Ahmad Zahid said he only heard of Mastoro Kenny when quizzed by an investigating officer at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters, also denying that Junaith Asharab had ever told him about Mastoro Kenny or Jogabonito.
When Afif suggested Mastoro Kenny was set up for MyEG projects allegedly linked to the Home Ministry, Ahmad Zahid disagreed and said: “I felt pelik (odd) because I never heard of this company, when Junaith himself denied this company lobbied for MyEG project.”
Earlier, Ahmad Zahid confirmed that it was his younger brother Nasaee who had introduced Junaith Asharab to him, but did not recall when he had met him for the first time.
“According to my brother, he is a money changer, he is also an arranger for foreign investors to come into the country, especially from South Asian countries,” he said, adding that he did not have the time to check on the personal details of Junaith Asharab.
Ahmad Zahid said he could have told Junaith Asharab or others about his intention to build a mosque and tahfiz centre in the parliamentary constituency of Bagan Datuk at an event as many people attended events such as Hari Raya gatherings.
Asked how close he was to Junaith Asharab, Ahmad Zahid said that he only knew the businessman through his brother Nasaee and that he had rarely met Junaith Asharab, but did not recall the occasions that they had met. “I don’t remember lah, I was too busy managing the country’s affairs.”
While Ahmad Zahid was sighted at a special meeting for Umno division leaders at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur during a lunch break for this trial, he was spotted in the courtroom just slightly before 2.30pm when the trial was scheduled to resume.
Ahmad Zahid’s lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik was seen in the courtroom during the morning session of trial, but was not present in the afternoon session.
The trial today saw the prosecution cross-examining Ahmad Zahid on all eight bribery charges that he is facing.
At the end of today’s court proceedings, Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh informed the court that Hisyam would be in the Federal Court tomorrow, but confirmed that Ahmad Zahid’s trial could continue tomorrow as scheduled without Hisyam.
Hamidi had said Hisyam would want to be present when the cross-examination of Ahmad Zahid is completed and when it is the defence’s turn to ask questions to Ahmad Zahid at the re-examination stage. The prosecution confirmed it would still be continuing the cross-examination of Ahmad Zahid tomorrow.
Hisyam is also the counsel or lawyer for former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, whose final appeal against his conviction in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial is expected to be proceeding at the Federal Court tomorrow.
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