(Updated)

Prosecution appeals against Zahid's acquittal in VLN case

Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge)

Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 26): The prosecution has filed an appeal against the acquittal of former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over 40 graft charges in relation to the one-stop centre and foreign visa system (VLN) projects that were awarded and extended to Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB).

The notice of appeal was filed on Monday (Sept 26), a source with the Attorney General's Chambers told theedgemarkets.com on the condition of anonymity.

In criminal cases, an appeal has to be filed within 14 days of a decision.

Last Friday, Shah Alam High Court judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa acquitted and discharged Zahid of all 33 charges under Section 16 (A)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (MACC Act) and seven charges under Section 165 of the Penal Code.

Yazid, in ruling the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case, questioned the size of the brown envelope that UKSB directors Harry Lee Vui Khiun and Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani as well as former administrative manager David Tan Siong Sun used in delivering foreign currencies, mainly Singapore dollar, to Zahid.

Yazid further said that their evidence for the delivery of cash monies was not corroborated as there were no CCTV recordings or pictures tendered unlike in Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's corruption case, in which independent witnesses testified on the delivery of millions of cash in bags.

The judge also ruled that the trio were not credible, trustworthy, or believable, and were not reliable witnesses.

He further said that Lee, Wan Quoris and Tan could have benefitted themselves from the said monies as the court noticed the three of them led lavish lifestyles as all three owned a Pavilion condo each.

The High Court also raised questions over the notation remarks in Tan's ledger, as it noticed that some of them did not have notation of delivery being made.

Meanwhile, a senior lawyer who requested anonymity told theedgemarkets.com that there are many things wrong with Yazid's judgement and supports the prosecution's attempt to appeal.

"The unit of currency in Rosmah's case was ringgit. The unit of currency in [Zahid's case] was Singapore dollar. They have S$10,000 (RM32,109) and S$1,000 notes. Placing 60 notes of such denomination in an envelope would have been easy.

"With regard to Datin Seri Rosmah's case, the notes were in RM100 and hence the need to use bags. Furthermore, there is uncontradicted evidence that the accused (Zahid) received the money. Immediately, the presumption of corrupt intention arises. The court overlooked that," added the senior lawyer.

Another lawyer, Dr Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar, said he was shocked by the decision of acquitting Zahid as he had read the reasons given and found several appealable errors.

"The public prosecutor must appeal the decision. I have been following this case quite closely. There is abundant evidence warranting the defence to be called. I think deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozeela Raja Toran who led the prosecution team performed well as she is an able DPP," he said.

"If the attorney general as public prosecutor does not appeal, it will disappoint the public. You cannot then blame the lawyers and the public for concluding that the public prosecutor is protecting corrupt public officials," he added.

Zahid faced 33 counts of graft for allegedly receiving S$13.56 million from UKSB to facilitate the company's foreign VLN and one-stop services in China.

These charges were under Section 16(a)(B) of the MACC Act.

He was also on trial for seven other bribery charges in his capacity as the home affairs minister then, for allegedly obtaining for himself bribes denominated in different currencies comprising S$1.15 million, RM3 million, €15,000 (RM66,720) and US$15,000 (RM69,042) from UKSB under Section 165 of the Penal Code.

The purported offences took place at the deputy prime minister's official residence, the Seri Satria in Putrajaya, and his private residence in Country Heights between October 2014 and March 2018.

Lam Jian Wyn & Jenny Ng