KUALA LUMPUR - The trial of Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi started on Monday (Nov 18) at the Malaysian High Court for 47 charges involving transactions totalling RM117.25 million (S$38.4 million) involving his charity foundation.
His trial is separate from that of his immediate predecessor as Umno president, Najib Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister.
Najib, 66, is on Monday facing his third trial linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd in a separate High Court. This time around, he is facing a joint trial with former 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy, for tampering with the 1MDB audit report.
Zahid, who is also 66, was just 1½ years ago the Malaysian deputy prime minister. He was also the home affairs minister.
The court on Monday heard from lead prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran, in her opening statement, that Zahid knew that the funds came to be in possession of Yayasan Akalbudi, his charity foundation, through various means.
"Witness testimonies and documentary evidence will be adduced to show proof that the accused knows or has reason to believe that the millions of ringgit he had received were proceeds from unlawful activities," she said according to Malay Mail online news.
Datuk Raja Rozela, a deputy public prosecutor (DPP) with the Attorney-General Chambers said the prosecution will show that the funds were used for personal reasons such as settling credit card bills and the purchase of motor-vehicle insurances and road taxes, Malay Mail reported.
The Star daily reported that there were also remittances by Zahid using the foundation's funds to a law firm, and contributions to the police football association.
Zahid received RM21.25 million as payment to awarding three contracts to several companies while holding the position of home minister, the DPP said, as quoted by Malay Mail.
The prosecution will call on 20 witnesses to testify.
On Oct 19 and Dec 14 last year, as well as Feb 20 this year, Zahid had pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court to the 47 charges.
Twelve of these were for criminal breach of trust, eight for bribery and 27 for money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds, The Star reported.