Malaysia's ex-DPM expected to be charged with CBT

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arriving at MACC's headquarters in Putrajaya last Friday to give his statement regarding a probe into misappropriation of funds belonging to his family-owned welfare foundation.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arriving at MACC's headquarters in Putrajaya last Friday to give his statement regarding a probe into misappropriation of funds belonging to his family-owned welfare foundation.PHOTO: BERNAMA

Umno leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told to surrender to anti-graft agency today

Malaysia's former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is expected to be charged tomorrow with criminal breach of trust (CBT) for misappropriating funds from his family-owned welfare foundation Yayasan Akalbudi, sources say.

A source told The Straits Times that Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid, 65, will be charged with CBT under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, caning and a fine.

"The order to charge him came today," the source said yesterday.

Mr Ahmad Zahid, president of former ruling party Umno, was sent a notice requiring him to surrender to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya at 3pm today.

"He will be arrested after his statement as an accused is taken under Section 53 of the MACC Act," another source said.

The MACC is looking into claims that RM800,000 (S$264,000) of the foundation's funds had been used to pay the credit card bills of Mr Ahmad Zahid and his wife. The payments were made between 2014 and 2015.

Mr Ahmad Zahid has said the payments by the charity for the credit card bills were made in error by an aide and that he has since settled the bills himself.

He was last interrogated by the anti-graft agency at its headquarters in Putrajaya last Friday.

Also questioned by the MACC last week were Mr Ahmad Zahid's daughter Nurulhidayah, and his stepbrother Mohamad Nasaee Ahmad Tarmizi. The Straits Times understands that the Attorney-General's Chambers is evaluating whether to bring criminal charges against Datuk Nurulhidayah.

Penang Institute's political scientist Wong Chin Huat said that should Mr Ahmad Zahid be charged, it would weaken his credibility and Umno's standing, particularly among the Malay community.

"In the short run, the party will stand by him and cry wolf on a political witch-hunt, but it won't last," he said.

"Calls will rise within Umno to distance itself from - or even outright abandon Zahid - and it may lead to a split in the party. The losers may form a new party or join Pakatan Harapan or Parti Islam SeMalaysia. If young leaders less tainted by 1MDB and other scandals emerge victorious, Umno may have a chance to regain some lost ground before the 15th general election," he added.

Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam has called on party members to rally outside the MACC office tonight and the court complex tomorrow morning in support of Mr Ahmad Zahid.

Mr Ahmad Zahid was first summoned by MACC on July 3 to have his statement recorded over the alleged misappropriation of funds from Yayasan Akalbudi, of which he is the chairman.

The foundation, which does charitable work such as the building of mosques, tahfiz schools and orphanages, was set up by Mr Ahmad Zahid's family with donations from himself and close friends.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia's ex-DPM expected to be charged with CBT'. Print Edition | Subscribe