RM3 million bribe not for Isa but for Muhammad Zahid – Counsel
KUALA LUMPUR,. The High Court was told yesterday that the RM3 million from former board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd (GAPSB) in connection with the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak was for Muhammad Zahid Md Arip and his cronies and not for former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad.
Counsel Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, representing Mohd Isa said, Muhammad Zahid, who was Mohd Isa’s former special political officer, often communicated about the bribe with former GAPSB board member, Ikhwan Zaidel, who is also the 16th prosecution witness.
“Each time the money was passed through Muhammad Zahid. How can the accused (Mohd Isa) receive the money, when the dealings were between them (Muhammad Zahid and Ikhwan) without the accused’s knowledge, “ he said in his submission at the end of the defence case involving the former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar before Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Salehuddin argued that in two meetings between Mohd Isa and Ikhwan, nothing was mentioned about the accused asking for the bribe from Ikhwan in return for the approval for the purchase of MPHS.
“Muhammad Zahid’s testimony also confirmed that Ikhwan did not say anything about the accused’s request during the meeting.
“This is further strengthened by the fact that the two meetings were not planned by the accused but was instead planned by Muhammad Zahid at Ikhwan’s request,” he said.
On the issue over greetings to Ikhwan, Salehuddin said the prosecution was trying to show that the accused’s first request for money was when Mohd Isa was said to have asked Muhammad Zahid to call Ikhwan to convey his greetings and ask how he was doing.
“It was the prosecution who interpreted the greetings as a way of demanding for a bribe,. How can the accused be charged with the offence based on this?” he said.
Salehuddin said Muhammad Zahid’s testimony that the accused’s instructions was not just an ordinary greeting but one that meant he wanted some political funds, was unreasonable.
“Mohd Isa never spoke about asking for political funds in Sarawak. Why would he want to talk about political funds, when he (Mohd Isa) is not any political party’s secretary,” he said.
On Muhammad Zahid’s testimony in court, Salehuddin said the witness was an interested party with a motive to incriminate the accused in order to save himself.
“Muhammad Zahid also gave conflicting dates and statements and certain sentences in his witness statements were in bold to exaggerate the fact it was the accused who had demanded and received the money, “he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz in his submission said the testimonies of several defence witnesses were incredible .
“The testimony of Zuraida (Zuraida Ariffin@Shaari, who was Mohd Isa’s former secretary) appeared to have been scripted in favor of the accused). She also gave conflicting statement about the actual position of her room and the accused’s room,” he said.
Afzainizam also argued that Zuraida’s testimony showed that Muhammad Zahid had the freedom to enter Mohd Isa’s room without anybody’s permission and his presence in the accused’s room were also not recorded by Zuraida.
“Zuraida’s testimony shows that she does not have a complete record of those entering the accused’s room when she was the personal secretary to Mohd Isa from 2011 to 2017.
“This is enough to prove that Muhammad Zahid has easy access to the accused’s room, and he could have easily entered the accused’s room to handover the money from Ikhwan as what he had testified,“ he said.
“This clearly shows that Zuraida did not see Muhammad Zahid handing over the money to the accused,” Afzainizam said.
Mohd Isa was charged with nine counts of dishonestly receiving gratification for himself, in cash totalling RM3,090,000 from Ikhwan Zaidel, who is a board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd, through one Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, as gratification for helping to approve the purchase of the hotel by FICSB for RM160 million.
All the offences were allegedly committed at Level 49, Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC near here between July 21, 2014, and Dec 11, 2015.
Each charge, framed under Section 16a(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law, provides a jail term of not exceeding 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
The court set Feb 3, 2021 to decide whether to convict or acquit Mohd Isa from the corruption charges.