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Zahid willing to settle US$2.058m outstanding loan for daughter to take over company — witness

KUALA LUMPUR (July 14): Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was willing to advance US$2.058 million from his foundation Yayasan Akalbudi to settle outstanding loan repayments for Ri-Yaz Asset Sdn Bhd, to enable his daughter Nurulhidayah to take over the shares the company, the High Court here was told today.

Datuk Mat Noor Nawi, 65, the former chairman of Export-Import of Bank of Malaysia Bhd (EXIM Bank) while reading his witness statement said the loan repayment to EXIM Bank was for the purchase of a hotel in Bali, Indonesia.

He said the arrears had to be settled before 60% of shares in Ri-Yaz Asset could be transferred to Nurulhidayah from the company's controlling shareholder, Tan Sri Rashid Manaf.

"Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid had said that if he advanced the money from the foundation, Datuk Nurulhidayah and Datuk Shaheen (shareholders of Ri-Yaz Asset) would have to repay the amount back to the foundation," he said on the 25th day of former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid’s trial linked to corruption, money laundering trial and criminal breach of trust involving millions of ringgit in funds from Yayasan Akalbudi.

The 76th prosecution witness said he and EXIM Bank CEO Norzilah Mohammed had a meeting with Ahmad Zahid, Nurulhidayah and Shaheen at the deputy prime minister’s office in Putrajaya on June 23, 2016, to get approval from the bank to allow Nurulhidayah to take over the shares.

He said on June 24, 2016, EXIM Bank sent a letter to Ri-Yaz Asset requesting payment of US$2.058 million in arrears, and Ri-Yaz Asset made the payment to the bank on July 5, 2016.

Mat Noor said EXIM Bank’s Banking and Credit Committee meeting on Dec 14, 2016, had agreed to the transfer of shares between Rashid and Nurulhidayah, stipulating that Rashid should remain the guarantor of Ri-Yaz Asset's debt with the bank, and must retain at least a 10% stake in the company.

He said Rashid was required to remain as the guarantor for the Ri-Yaz Asset loan, as it had been previously approved on the basis of Rashid's commercial strength.

"However, as far as I know, Nurulhidayah did not pursue the intention to purchase 60% of Rashid's shares in Ri-Yaz Asset. Rashid's shares were later bought by a company from Indonesia, but I do not know who the buyer is," he said.

Meanwhile, Mat Noor agreed with lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, who represented Ahmad Zahid, that the bank did not have any issue with a third party paying the outstanding loan amount.

Asked by Ahmad Zaidi on whether he knew if all the payments (for arrears) had been returned as Nurulhidayah did not continue with the intention to buy the shares, the witness replied: "Yes I know”.

When asked by DPP Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi during cross-examination on what was the basis for settling the outstanding loan repayment amount, the witness said it was a prerequisite to the proposal for Nurulhidayah to take over the Ri-Yaz Asset shares.

Mat Noor also said the loan arrears were settled by Ri-Yaz Asset, but he did not know from where the firm had obtained the funds.

Meanwhile, the 78th prosecution witness, Datuk Mohd Jimmy Wong Abdullah, 68, told the court that 14 demand drafts and a cheque totalling RM9 million in contributions were presented to Ahmad Zahid for the construction of mosques in Melaka and Country Heights, Kajang.

Mohd Jimmy Wong, a non-executive director of My EG Services Bhd, also confirmed that he had personally handed over the demand drafts and cheque dated between May 13, 2016, and March 26, 2018, worth RM600,000 each, to Ahmad Zahid at the latter’s residence.

"During the handover, Datuk Ahmad Zahid would acknowledge the receipt of the donations for the purpose of building the mosques," he said when reading his statement.

He said Ahmad Zahid also requested for the contributions not to be paid in cash, and that the money should be placed into the account of Lewis & Co as the trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi.

Ahmad Zahid, 67, is facing 47 charges, with 12 of them involving criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on July 27.

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