KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is expected to be charged on Friday (Oct 19) with criminal breach of trust (CBT) for allegedly 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 on conviction.
“The order to charge him came today,” the source said on Wednesday.
Mr Ahmad Zahid, president of former ruling party Umno, was sent a notice on Wednesday requiring him to surrender himself to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya at 3pm on Thursday.
“He will be arrested after his statement as an accused is taken under Section 53 of the MACC Act,” another source said.
MACC is looking into allegations that RM800,000 (S$265,000) of the foundation’s funds was used to pay Mr Ahmad Zahid and his wife’s credit card bills. The payments were made between 2014 and 2015.
Mr Ahmad Zahid has said the payments by the charity for the credit card bills was made in error by an aide and 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 ST understands that the Attorney-General’s Chambers is evaluating whether to bring any criminal charges against Datuk Nurulhidayah.
Penang Institute’s political scientist Wong Chin Huat said should Mr Ahmad Zahid be charged, it would weaken his credibility and Umno’s standing, particularly among the ethnic 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 - 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 (PAS). 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 on Wednesday called on party members to rally outside the MACC office on Thursday night and the court complex on Friday 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 building mosques, tahfiz schools and orphanages, was set up by his family with personal donations from himself and close friends. Records showed the foundation was registered in 1997 and its purpose is to receive and administer funds to eradicate poverty.