Ex-deputy Malaysian PM charged with corruption and money laundering

Ex- deputy Malaysian Prime Minister, Ahmad Zahid-Hamidi was on Friday charged with corruption and money laundering including with 45 other offences.

Ahmad leads the opposition as president of the United Malays National Organisation, the once-powerful party that ruled Malaysia for 60 years before being ousted in a shock general election defeat in May.

Ahmad is the latest former high-ranking official to be charged with suspected graft since the unexpected election victory of a coalition led by Mahathir Mohamad.

According to reports, Ahmad was charged with 10 counts of criminal breach of trust and eight counts of abuse of power involving sums totaling 42 million ringgit (10 million dollars).

“He was also charged with 27 counts of laundering about 72 million ringgit (17.3 million dollars).

“However, he pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Ahmad, also the former home minister, was accused of using his position to receive bribes in exchange for helping companies win contracts for ministry projects.’

In one case, he was alleged to have accepted six million ringgit (1.4 million dollars) from a director of Datasonic Group Berhad that had secured a five-year government contract to supply 12.5 million electronic chips for Malaysian passports.

In another case, prosecutors said Ahmad Zahid received 13.25 million ringgit, allegedly to assist a company secure projects awarded by My EG Services Sdn Bhd, a government service provider.

Shares of Datasonic slumped as much as 43 per cent on the national stock exchange before paring some losses to trade down 28 per cent.

Ahmad was also accused of misusing funds from his family-run charity foundation.

Each of the 45 charges carries a jail term of up to 20 years, with fines of up to five times the value of the illegal transactions for the money laundering and abuse of power offences.

Former Premier, Najib Razak, is also facing graft charges, but related to a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that led to the former ruling coalition’s shock election defeat.

His wife, Rosmah Mansor, has also been charged.

They have pleaded not guilty, with Najib’s trial due to begin in 2019.

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