KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Chia Bee Enterprise Sdn Bhd’s director today said he did not know why the company had issued and paid out cheques totalling RM10 million in 2016, while also saying that he had took up the position as a director in the company on the request of his late employer Datuk Seri Lau Hui Kang of Sarawak’s KTS Group.
Wong Hee Sing, 65, was testifying as the 88th prosecution witness in the trial where former minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is facing charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.
Wong, who has also been working as a manager in Sarawak-based KTS Timber Products Sdn Bhd since 1973, said he has been a director in Chia Bee Enterprise Sdn Bhd since his appointment in 2008.
Wong said that his employer Lau had died in 2006, noting however that Lau had prior to his death asked him to help handle Chia Bee Enterprise as he had knowledge about the company’s operations and as the company was formerly owned by KTS Group before Prime Lumber Holding took over as the shareholder.
“I confirm that I was appointed on June 5, 2008 until now, as requested by Wong Sang Woo (Paul Wong) who is a Singaporean businessman and a close friend of my late boss Datuk Seri Lau Hui Kang,” he told the High Court today, noting that Lau had “reminded” him previously to help with Chia Bee Enterprise.
Wong however said he did not know Paul personally, but has known of the Singaporean for more than 20 years only as Lau’s close friend and confirmed that Paul is still a director of Chia Bee Enterprise.
Wong said he does not know where Paul is currently located and guessed his age to be around 80 years old, saying he did not know how close Paul’s and Lau were as friends but said he thinks that they are together quite often.
Asked by Zahid’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh, Wong confirmed that he did not know if Paul is a rich person or if he is a philanthropist who generously gives out many donations to charities, and further said he had no knowledge why the RM10 million was paid out from Chia Bee Enterprise.
Hamidi sought to suggest that the cheques in 2016 totalling RM10 million were paid by Paul to Zahid’s Yayasan Akalbudi for charitable purposes, but Wong maintained that he did not know the purpose of the payments.
Hamidi: He is a philanthropist, I put it to you that Paul Wong agreed to help and donate to the charity which Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi has founded?
Wong: I don’t know.
Asked by Hamidi, Wong said he did not know Zahid personally and only knew the latter to be the deputy prime minister until 2018, also saying he had no knowledge if it is common for political persons like Zahid to have charitable foundations or if Paul donated to Zahid’s charity.
Hamidi: RM10 million, sir, big amount. Agree with me Paul Wong donated the RM10 million cheques to Yayasan Akalbudi for charity purposes? I put it to you that Paul Wong donated RM10 million to Datuk Seri Zahid for charity?
Wong: No, I don’t know.
Hamidi sought to suggest that Paul knew Zahid personally and were good friends since 2015, further suggesting that the duo had discussed for Paul to donate the RM10 million to Yayasan Akalbudi to build a mosque and a tahfiz school in Bagan Datuk and to buy two bungalows in Country Heights for RM5.9 million.
But Wong again said he had no knowledge about these matters.
Hamidi again suggested that Zahid had in 2016 explained to Paul that the funds were needed for Yayasan Akalbudi’s charitable works and that the Singaporean businessman had believed that the request was genuine and that he was then asked to make the RM10 million payment to law firm Lewis & Co, but Wong again said he did not know about these matters.
Hamidi: Mr Wong, do you know that Mr Paul Wong was actually privileged and honoured that he donated this RM10 million to a charitable foundation founded by the then DPM?
Zahid’s lawyers had throughout the trial sought to suggest that Lewis & Co is a trustee for Zahid’s Yayasan Akalbudi, but the law firm’s partners had said that it did not act as a trustee for Yayasan Akalbudi.
Wong agreed that the cheques totalling RM10 million that were issued in 2016 to law firm Lewis & Co meant that the transactions were all recorded and traceable, further agreeing that cheques would not be used but cash would be used if the funds were “dirty money or illegal money or laundered money”.
Among other things, Wong confirmed that Chia Bee Enterprise is a dormant company with no business activities.
Wong had also confirmed in his witness testimony today that he does not know about the reason of the RM10 million payment by Chia Bee Enterprise to Lewis & Co, also saying he had never known of Yayasan Akalbudi or Yayasan Al-Falah or Lewis & Co previously.
“I never know and I don’t have knowledge about the source of money amounting to RM10,000,000,” he also said.
Previously, Maybank Central Square operations officer Sharifah Shifah Syed Zainol had as the 49th prosecution witness confirmed that Chia Bee Enterprise had issued a total of 10 cheques for RM1 million each all dated April 21, 2016, or for a total of RM10 million to Lewis & Co’s client account.
Lewis & Co’s partner Muralidharan Balan Pillai had also previously testified that 10 cheques totalling RM10 million issued from Chia Bee Enterprise was given to him by Zahid and deposited into the law firm’s client account to be held on trust for Zahid’s family’s Yayasan Al-Falah.
In this trial, Zahid ― who is 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 tomorrow.