KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has claimed trial to seven corruption charges involving S$4.24 million that he allegedly received in kickbacks from the operator of the foreign visa system (VLN) while he was home minister.
Mr Zahid, who was also a former deputy prime minister, was charged under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.
He faces a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine of RM10,000 or five times the amount of the bribe, whichever is higher, if convicted.
The charge sheet alleged that Mr Zahid received the sum in seven transactions between March 28, 2017 and March 2, 2018 in exchange for extending the contract for Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) to manage a one-stop centre in China and the VLN.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar suggested that bail be set at RM200,000 (S$65,600) with one surety.
"Since the accused has been charged for other offences, his passport has already been surrendered to the court," he said.
Sessions Court Judge Azura Alwi set bail at RM200,000 with one surety. The case will be mentioned again on July 31.
The 66-year-old Bagan Datoh MP, who is Umno president, is expected to appear in the Shah Alam Sessions Court again tomorrow in connection with another 33 charges related to the same case.
That will bring the number of charges he is facing to 87.
He previously claimed trial to 47 counts of criminal breach of trust involving his family-run foundation, Yayasan Akal Budi, money laundering and bribery.
Responding to the latest charges, the MACC has said that the government should decide on whether to press charges against UKSB for allegedly bribing the former deputy prime minister.
MACC chief Latheefa Koya told reporters that: "We leave it to the government. What is important now is that we prove that these (corruption charges against Zahid) happened and bring the accused to court".
Mr Zahid took over from former premier Najib Razak as Umno president in May last year days after the country's general election in which Umno, part of the Barisan Nasional coalition, was defeated by the Pakatan Harapan alliance.
In December, he announced that he was taking a leave of absence as Umno president amid pressure from within the party, handing over the reins to Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, who is now serving in an acting capacity.
Mr Najib is also on trial in connection with corruption related to the scandal-ridden state investment firm, 1MDB.