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Witness breaks down in tears during Ahmad Zahid's corruption trial

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 13): The owner of Sarana Kencana Sdn Bhd (SKSB) Datuk Abu Hanifah Noordin failed to control his emotions and was in tears when testifying in the trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on how his company was awarded a contract to supply passport chips for the Government.

He was responding to a question by Ahmad Zahid’s lawyer, Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, regarding what was special about SKSB that had enabled it to secure the contract.

Abu Hanifah, 69, who is the 32nd prosecution witness and also director of Datasonic Teknologi Sdn Bhd (DTSB) said it was because SKSB was among the best and offered a reasonable price for the job, although there were several other companies which could supply the product.

“We (DTSB) are proud of what we do by offering the cheapest price and the best service, despite what was said by the Government officers (during yesterday’s hearing) which were rumours.

“We were disappointed that the then Home Minister (Ahmad Zahid)  believed the bad news, (and) that was why we invited him to see the quality of our product. The Home Ministry (then) and its officers were so defensive of the old contractors,” he said with tears running down his cheeks and then wiping it with a handkerchief.

Abu Hanifah was testifying on the 15th day of Ahmad Zahid’s corruption trial involving millions of ringgit in Yayasan Akalbudi funds and  passport chip supply contracts with several companies.

Ahmad Zaidi then asked Abu Hanifah if he wanted to take a short break, following which judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah adjourned the hearing for 10 minutes to give time for the witness to calm down.

SKSB, which is owned by Abu Hanifah and his wife, Datin Ropi Riandani Dody Muchtar, is the parent company of  Datasonic Group Berhad (DGB) and DTSB.

Earlier, when reading out his witness statement, Abu Hanifah said SKSB donated RM6 million in political funds to UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN), which was paid through Lewis & Co, which is a trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi owned by Ahmad Zahid.

Abu Hanifah, who is Ahmad Zahid's political acquaintance, said the payment was made through two Maybank cheques, for RM1 million and RM5 million, which he signed on April 25, 2017,  after being asked by SKSB adviser, Chew Ben Ben.

"Chew had asked me to leave the part on nominee blank. I didn’t know why the payment was made to Lewis & Co and I thought it was a payment for business and investments.

“I did check with Chew again and he informed me that the cheques were paid to Lewis & Co as a political contribution," he said during examination-in chief by deputy public prosecutor Gan Peng Kun.

Abu Hanifah said he did not make the payment into UMNO, BN or Ahmad Zahid's accounts as he did not know which cheque would be for UMNO and BN.

“Chew informed me that the contribution for UMNO and BN was because the Home Ministry had helped to enlist SKSB's subsidiary, DGB, through the ‘Jejak Jaya ke Bursa’ scheme, which was handled by the Finance Ministry’,” he added.

Ahmad Zahid, 67, is facing  47 charges, with  12 of them for criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering involving tens of millions of ringgit of funds belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.

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