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Zahid’s lawyer grills ex-secretary over ‘carelessness’ in use of charity’s cheques to settle credit card bills

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — A former executive secretary today admitted in court to being careless and having unintentionally made mistakes when preparing charitable organisation Yayasan Akalbudi’s cheques to pay for her then boss Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s personal credit card bills.

Under cross-examination by Zahid’s lawyer Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Zainal, Major Mazlina Mazlan @ Ramly, while testifying as the 90th prosecution witness in Zahid’s corruption trial, also conceded to having overlooked certain details.

Mazlina confirmed that she had previously testified to having made mistakes such as the figure and wording for the amount in cheques not tallying or with defective cheques rejected by the bank.

Zaidi: Although there are mistakes in those cheques, those cheques were still banked in by you. If it is not banked in, it won’t be rejected.

Mazlina: Yes.

Zaidi then spent the rest of the day going through 15 monthly credit card statements from December 2013 to April 2015 for four AmIslamic Bank credit cards under then home minister Zahid — two principal cards under his name and two supplementary cards under his wife’s name, as well as 32 Yayasan Akalbudi cheques that were used to pay for these bills.

Mazlina — who confirmed that she herself does not have a credit card — was also quizzed about her understanding of the monthly credit card statements and the meaning of the terms in such statements.

Zaidi then quizzed Mazlina over various issues with the Yayasan Akalbudi cheques that were used to pay for Zahid’s credit card bills, including instances of overpaying the bank.

In one instance for a RM65,153.32 amount of credit card bills due by January 17, 2014, Zaidi highlighted that Mazlina had instead overpaid when she prepared two cheques totalling RM71,283.17 — which is an amount that did not take into account excess credit of RM6,129.85.

Mazlina then agreed that she had overpaid, further agreeing when Zaidi said “Puan Mazlina, this is a mistake that you made.”

For these set of two cheques dated January 9, 2014, Mazlina confirmed that she had stamped Zahid’s signature on to the cheques, with Zaidi then questioning the necessity for her to use the stamp as the payment was only due on January 17, 2014 and arguing that she still had time to ask for Zahid to personally sign the cheques.

Zaidi: Cheques dated January 9, 2014, eight days before the due date. If I say still a lot of time for you to pay these cheques, you can slot in time to meet with Zahid in the office, do you agree?

Mazlina: Agree.

Previously, Mazlina had testified that she had in 2014 started using a stamp of Zahid’s signature on Yayasan Akalbudi cheques to pay for his credit card bills to prevent the bank from blocking the cards’ usage due to late payment, noting that this was required to expedite payment as he was often busy and not in the office.

With most of the cheques referred to Mazlina today featuring the stamped signature of Zahid, Zaidi argued that there was actually no urgency to use the stamp but she disagreed and at one point noted that Zahid’s presence at the office was not guaranteed even if the credit card statement came in ahead of the payment deadline.

Mazlina had previously also testified that the monthly credit card statements may reach her late as it is not sent directly to her desk but to the general office and agreed today that such bills would come in an envelope marked “private and confidential”, but disagreed with Zaidi’s suggestion that the procedure would mean that such documents would go straight to the intended recipient instead of through the general office.

Zaidi: And if there are any late (payments), Puan Mazlina, that is because of your carelessness and not procedure, can you agree with me?

Mazlina: Disagree.

Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly (left) is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Major Mazlina Mazlan@Ramly (left) is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 25, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Among other things, Zaidi pressed Mazlina on various other transactions which he said showed her carelessness or mistakes, including writing the wrong month of January for two cheques meant to be dated February 2014, and overpaying with a RM20,858.36 cheque in March 2014 when the outstanding bill was RM8,001.54, as well as misreading the credit card statements and rounding up a RM136,604.58 payment due to issue a RM150,000 cheque in August 2014, and writing the wrong year of 2010 for a September 2014 cheque that was accepted by the bank.

Mazlina agreed at many points that such instances amounted to mistakes or her having overlooked the details.

Zaidi also at one point suggested to Mazlina that she had made a mistake in using multiple cheques to pay for separate credit cards in the same credit card statement when payments can be made in a single cheque, but Mazlina disagreed that this amounted to a mistake and highlighted that the bank had accepted the payments.

Quizzed by Zaidi, Mazlina said Zahid seldom asked to see the monthly credit card statements which she kept in a locked drawer together with the cheque books, but disagreed that she had failed to show such statements to Zahid when requested.

Mazlina also denied having hidden the credit card statements to prevent Zahid from finding out about her mistakes.

In this trial, Zahid ― who is also a former deputy prime minister and currently the Umno president ― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.

Zahid’s trial before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes on September 21, where Zaidi is expected to further cross-examine Mazlina.–MalayMail

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