KUALA LUMPUR,. The names of several companies surfaced in Umno president and former home minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s 45 charges yesterday, including a public listed firm which supplied Malaysian passport components.
But who are these companies that you have probably never heard of?
Here’s a quick look at them, based on Malay Mail’s checks of records on the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) and news reports:
Alleged criminal breach of trust (CBT) of charity funds (RM20.8 million)
1. Yayasan Akalbudi
What is it: According to its company profile lodged with SSM, this foundation formerly named Yayasan Budi was founded in 1997 as a public limited company limited by guarantee.
Its nature of business is to “receive and administer funds for the eradication of poverty relevant to the poverty eradication programme”.
Little else is known about this foundation, which appeared to have surfaced only this year in news reports despite its long history on paper. Luckily, Zahid has shared some additional information in the past few months after questioning by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the use of the foundation’s funds to pay his and his wife’s credit card bills.
Zahid had clarified that the payment was an honest mistake by the foundation’s paymaster and that he has since repaid it.
In Zahid’s own words: The foundation is owned by his family, with its funds originating from him and “several other friends who wanted to donate” to welfare and religious work such as the construction of mosques and tahfiz schools.
“I’m in fact the biggest donor to this charity foundation owned by my family, which runs religious schools and welfare homes.”
Link to charges: Zahid is accused of 10 counts of criminal breach of trust as the trustee of Yayasan Akalbudi involving RM20.8 million of the foundation’s funds. The charges were brought under Section 409 of the Penal Code, and are all punishable by a jail term of between two and 20 years, and caning and fine.
Corruption charges during Zahid’s time as home minister (RM21.25 million)
A) MyEG projects
First up, what is MyEG? Public-listed firm MyEG Services Bhd’s website states that it builds, owns and operates an electronic channel that delivers government agencies’ services to Malaysians and businesses. Services include online payment of summonses from the police and the Road Transport Department.
(Note: MyEG is not alleged to have given bribes to Zahid; it is merely mentioned in some of the charges.)
MyEG’s response: In a Bursa announcement yesterday, MyEG’s board of directors said that it had on the same day received a letter from MACC which confirmed and clarified that the company and its board are not under investigation and are not a party to the investigation which led to Zahid’s charges.
MyEG had earlier said in a separate Bursa announcement that it had never made any payments to any party during the process to secure any concession contracts awarded by the government.
Don’t blink, watch out for the web of connections below:
2. Mastoro Kenny IT Consultant & Services
What is it: SSM records say it is a company solely owned by a Malaysian by the name of Kumaraguru Muthusamy, and that it acts as a “consultant” and deals in “supply and services, IT software, web portal programming, computer accessories”.
This company started business on August 19, 2016 and terminated its business on August 18, 2017.
Link to charges: Between July 15, 2016 and February 8, 2017, this company was alleged to have paid Zahid a total of RM13.25 million in bribes through 24 cheques, in the hopes that Zahid would help it obtain MyEG projects that were being handled by the Home Ministry.
Status: Defunct. (The only company in this list which has stopped operating, according to SSM records.)
MyEG’s clarification: The company’s Bursa announcement yesterday said that both it and its board have no knowledge of Mastoro or its board of directors, and had never been in contact with the latter’s board or representatives.
MyEG also said it had no knowledge of the dealings between Mastoro and Zahid; and had never awarded any projects or had any dealings with Mastoro; and had never appointed any vendor or contractors in any of its dealings with the Home Ministry.
3. Jogabonito Jewellery & Diamonds
What is it: This business is solely owned by the same owner as Mastoro: Kumaraguru. It has a slightly longer history as it started its business on April 4, 2011, with a stated business of “supplying, selling and buying gold and diamonds”.
Link to charges: Mastoro allegedly paid RM250,000 (from the total RM13.25 million) to Zahid through a Public Bank cheque issued by this jewellery company via a man named Junaith Asharab Md. Shariff.
4. Berani & Jujur Trading
What is it: This company’s name when translated would mean “Brave & Honest” literally. SSM records show two companies with the same name and the same ownership and business particulars, including one that had expired after being in business from March 2009 to April 2010.
The remaining active Berani & Jujur Trading names a 46-year-old Malaysian man — Junaith Ashrab Md Shariff — as its sole proprietor, with its business stated as the management of agricultural activities. This business started on July 12, 2012.
Link to charges: Mastoro allegedly paid RM5 million (of the same RM13.25 million) through 10 RHB Islamic Bank Berhad cheques issued by this agricultural management firm.
Berani & Jujur’s owner Junaith Ashrab shares almost the same spelling as Junaith Asharab who was named as allegedly passing RM8 million (also of the RM13.25 million) through 13 RHB Islamic Bank Berhad cheques issued by Mastoro in bribes to Zahid. Malay Mail is unable to conclusively determine if these two individuals are the same person.
B) Alleged bribery for Malaysian passport chips project
5. Datasonic Group Berhad
What is it: This is a public-listed company that was incorporated on March 13, 2008 and with RM135 million of share capital issued, with its nature of business being “investment holding and provision of management services to its subsidiaries, acquire and hold shares or stock business on datacard equipment and embossing system”.
It has 14 directors and 21 shareholders, with the shareholders including institutions such as Lembaga Tabung Haji and those linked to banks, according to the company’s September 26 records with SSM.
Link to charges: Zahid was charged with allegedly receiving from Datasonic’s director Chew Ben Ben a total of RM6 million in bribes through two cheques on April 26, 2017, which allegedly resulted in the group’s unit Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd (DTSB) being appointed via purported “direct negotiation” with the Home Ministry to implement the supply of 12.5 million chips in Malaysia’s polycarbonate passports’ biodata page over the course of five years.
Datasonic Group’s response: In an announcement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Datasonic Group asserted that neither the company nor any of its directors had issued the payment in relation to the 12.5 million passport chips supply as reported.
It said instead that DTSB had in April 2012 won through “open tender” a five-year contract to supply passport polycarbonate datapages and printing system, adding that DTSB was subsequently awarded on December 15, 2015 the project to supply the 12.5 million chips.
Datasonic Group said it was awarded the 2015 contract based on value proposition of enhanced chips security (with chips bonded into the polycarbonate datapage instead of the passport cover’s back), as well as its pricing that was lower than the previous vendor which, it said, resulted in the Malaysian government saving RM56.25 million over a five-year period.
6. Sarana Kencana Sdn Bhd
What is it: According to SSM records, this is a private limited company incorporated on September 25, 2003 and formerly with the name of Bahana Kencana. Its nature of business is “investment holding and provision of management and consulting services”, with two directors bearing the title of Datuk and Datin respectively also being the sole two shareholders listed.
Sarana Kencana’s two directors are also listed as among the shareholders of Datasonic Group. One of them is both a director and a manager in Datasonic Group, based on SSM records via the company’s documents as of September 26.
Link to charges: The RM6 million bribe allegedly paid by Datasonic Group to Zahid was purportedly via two Malayan Banking Berhad cheques owned by Sarana Kencana.
C) Services related to migrant workers
8. Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd
What is it: According to SSM records, it is a private limited company incorporated in 1996 that handles “general trading” and “investment holding”, with RM1 million of share capital. It has two directors, who are also the only two shareholders, include a 47-year-old Malaysian man named Azlan Shah Jaffril.
Its latest available financial information in SSM records shows that it posted a revenue of RM923,160, with profit at RM133,699, as of the financial year ending December 2016.
This company’s name was mentioned in a report on the controversy over the outsourcing of the Malaysian government’s immigration duties to private firms, and was one of the companies alleged to have received additional payments that burdened poor Nepali migrant workers seeking to come to Malaysia.
Link to charges: The company’s director Azlan Shah is alleged to have paid RM2 million in bribes through three cheques issued by the company, which purportedly resulted in its appointment as the operator of a One Stop Centre (OSC) in Pakistan and Nepal. These charges were alleged to have occurred during the August 3, 2017 to March 15, 2018 period.
All eight corruption charges linked to these projects are each punishable by a maximum 20-year jail term, and a fine of either RM10,000 or five times the amount of the bribe, whichever is higher.
It’s not just companies that were mentioned in most of the 45 charges faced by Zahid, but also a law firm.
9. Lewis & Co
What is it: According to the Malaysian Bar’s directory of law firms, it is the only such law firm in Peninsular Malaysia with this name and with its office address stated as located at Menara UOA Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur.
It was mentioned in the charges as having a Maybank account through which Zahid purportedly received the alleged bribes in the form of cheques.
In Zahid’s money-laundering charges, he was accused of giving orders for illicit funds totalling almost RM59.28 million to be deposited as fixed deposit into two accounts via the same Maybank account of the law firm. Zahid had also allegedly ordered for the purchase of two bungalows with RM5.9 million through a cheque purportedly issued by this account.
Zahid was also alleged to have ordered a 46-year-old Malaysian man named Omar Ali Abdullah to convert RM6,885,270.20 (RM6.8 million) in cash into 30 cheques to be passed to Lewis & Co for the purchase of fixed deposits in Maybank.
(Note: The mention of this law firm is not meant to imply any wrongdoing on the part of the law firm, as law firms can hold money in trust for their clients, such as in transactions involving the buying and selling of properties. It is unclear if Zahid is a client of the law firm.)