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Malaysian DPM Zahid Hamidi receives discharge not amounting to acquittal in charity foundation graft case

Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, was acquitted of all corruption charges related to charity foundation Yayasan Akal Budi (YAB) funds.

The High Court granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) while highlighting potential waste of judicial time and taxpayer money.



KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister was cleared of all corruption charges related to the misappropriation of funds from charity foundation Yayasan Akal Budi (YAB), on Monday (4 Sept).

This development occurred after the Malaysian High Court granted the 70-year-old a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) on 12 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges, eight counts of bribery, and 27 counts of money laundering, involving substantial sums of money belonging to YAB.

A DNAA from the court means that the accused is released from the current charges without being formally acquitted.

The case is temporarily suspended, but the prosecution retains the option to refile the charges or reinstate the case at a later time if new evidence or circumstances arise.

However, the High Court did not grant a full acquittal to Deputy Prime Minister Zahid, who also serves as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bagan Datok.

Judge highlights “great amount of taxpayers’ money would have been wasted” if prosecution didn’t proceed

According to the New Straits Times, Presiding Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah clarified that the Attorney-General (AG) has the authority to initiate and withdraw charges at any time before a judgment is reached.

Nonetheless, the Court of Appeal judge, who had previously presided as a High Court judge, emphasized that a significant amount of judicial time and taxpayers’ money would have been wasted if the prosecution had chosen not to proceed with the case.

“Before I adjourn I wish to place on record that although powers of the AG under article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution and 254 of Criminal Procedural Code to institute or withdraw charges is unquestioned. ”

“Should the prosecution decide in the near future that they will not proceed with the charges then much precious judicial time and great amount of taxpayers’ money would have been wasted,” the judge reaffirmed.

The court acknowledged that investigations were still ongoing due to numerous representations made by the defence.

The judge noted that the defense had previously indicated that these representations were extensive and required time to examine, including taking statements from various individuals.

“However, it must be borne in mind that it was intimated to the court on a previous occasion when an adjournment was sought for by the defence that these representations took up several pages. ”

“It is therefore justified that prosecution needed more time to examine these representations, which also involve taking statements from various individuals. ”

“The reasons given by the deputy public prosecutor, including the establishment of the Royal Comission of Inquiry (RCI), even without a timeline, do not suggest in any way that the charges in this case have concluded,” added Judge Sequerah.

The trial had commenced on November 18, 2019, and as of now, 77 trial days have passed, during which the prosecution has called 99 witnesses. The defence had also presented its case, with the 15th defence witness currently testifying.

Deputy Prosecutor reveals crucial factors behind decision to halt case

Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar earlier explained that the AGC had made the decision to halt the case based on various new evidence presented by the defence in their representation letters.

This evidence included allegations of politically motivated prosecution against Zahid and the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into former Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’s memoir, among other factors.

“This matter undoubtedly has the potential to tarnish the reputation and credibility of the AGC as the prosecuting party and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as the investigating body. ”

“It may appear to the public as if both of these institutions have been manipulated or exploited by certain parties for their own purposes. ”

“The accused has also raised a very serious issue in his representation letters regarding the allegation that he is a victim of selective prosecution by the previous government.  ”

“The AGC believes that it is crucial for the prosecution and the MACC to thoroughly examine and investigate this claim,” added Dusuki Mokhtar.

Zahid’s lead counsel, Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, argued for a full acquittal, citing the prosecution’s inability to provide a timeline for completing the probe against his client.

“It is most unfair and unjust for the Sword of Damocles to hang over the head of my client.

“So we urge your Lordship to grant full acquittal under Section 245(3) of the CPC.”

DPM Zahid calls for an end to “politically-motivated charges”

Ahmad Zahid also conveyed to the Malaysian media that he hoped that following the dismissal of all 47 charges associated with Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB), there would be an end to any further “politically motivated charges.”

“My family and I are grateful that the court has discharged me of all 47 charges.”

“The judge had decided to discharge me but it does not amount to an acquittal because there is still an ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry towards the book written by former attorney-general Tommy Thomas. ”

He added, “Our role in Umno and Barisan Nasional is to continue this fight to ensure a stop to all politically-motivated charges,” Zahid made these remarks with a smile, dressed in a dark-coloured suit.

UMNO chairman facing 47 criminal charges

70-year-old Zahid, Chairman of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), had been facing 47 charges – 12 for criminal breach of trust (CBT), eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering – involving tens of millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi (YAB).

For the 12 CBT charges, he is alleged to have used the funds for personal expenses such as credit card payments, insurance policies, vehicle licenses, remittances to a law firm, and contributions to a police football association.

He was accused of committing the offences between 28 March 2016, and 11 April 2018.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail, whipping, and a fine.

On 23 September last year, Mr Zahid was acquitted of all 40 graft charges against him in Foreign Visa System (VLN) case.

Following Barisan Nasional (BN)’s tragic loss in GE15, Zahid, as its chairman, has been embattled with criticism and calls to step down.

With only 30 seats secured out of the contested 177 seats, BN saw its worst result in the coalition’s history.

After the conclusion of the Malaysia 15th General Election, the Malaysia King named Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister to end the impasse of a hung parliament, as none of the major political coalitions gained a simple majority.

On 16 December last year, political leaders from UMNO, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Sabah and Sarawak signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) pledging their support to the Unity Government led by Anwar Ibrahim.

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Both the Singapore and Malaysian AGCs need to be replaced.