Court rejects Zahid’s ‘premature’ challenge against MACC Act, AMLA

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 18, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — The High Court ordered Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trial for abuse and money laundering to start today after dismissing his challenge of the laws used to frame the charges against him.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah said Zahid’s application concerning the constitutionality of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 was premature as the trial has not started yet.

“The challenge at this point is premature where it hypothetically assumes admissibility of the documents presented by the prosecution,” he said when delivering his judgment.

Sequerah also ordered the prosecution to give the defence team advance notice when producing documents, adding that disputes over evidence could be raised as and when they are tendered in court.

He said he will decide the admissibility of the documents contested once the prosecution rests its case.

“The prosecution is asked to commence with the trial,” he said.

Zahid is facing 47 charges of bribery, corruption and criminal breach of trust involving millions of ringgit of Yayasan Akalbudi funds.

Later in the afternoon, the first prosecution witness took the stand and testified how the Akalbudi foundation was originally formed by Zahid and one Zulkifli Senteri under the name Yayasan Budi back in 1997.

SSM executive Pinny Aznan leaves the courtroom at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 18, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Pinny Asnan, a 39-year-old executive working at the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) said the foundation was formed purely for charitable purposes and was meant to receive and administer funds to help the poor.

The business administration graduate explained how under clauses within the foundation’s license, as stipulated in Section 24(1) of the Companies Act 1965 also restricted directors from receiving dividends from proceeds and projects undertaken by the foundation.

“The foundation was meant to receive and manage funds to eradicate poverty, to subscribe and contribute to charitable causes while undertake and organise studies concerning the socio-economic situation.

“The foundation was also meant to use its funds to grant donations to institutions, to foster and develop education,” she said when reading out her witness statement.

Her statement also included details such as how she has been working in SSM for the past 15 years, and that she started her career there at the commission’s investigative department looking into bankruptcy issues.