SHAH ALAM: A company director lobbied for the approval and continued support of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Najib Razak in an attempt to prevent competitors from managing the government’s Foreign Visa System (VLN) from 2013 onwards, the High Court has heard.

The High Court here was told that the company Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) had sent several letters to then prime minister Najib to seek support, following competition from several other companies interested in operating a one-stop centre (OSC) for visas in China and several other countries.

Testifying in the corruption trial of former home minister and deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid over the VLN visa system, UKSB director Datuk Fadzil Ahmad said that the company had sent three letters to Najib between May 23, 2013, and Oct 27, 2015 seeking continued support.

Earlier, the second prosecution witness, former principal assistant secretary for the Immigration Affairs Division at the Home Ministry, Azman Azra Abdul Rahman @ Md Salleh, told the court that Najib had asked Ahmad Zahid to continue UKSB’s contract as the sole operator of the VLN system to Malaysia in China.

Yesterday, the 12th prosecution witness, former secretary-general of the Home Ministry Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Mohamed Radzi, told the court that in 2012, there were proposals from several companies for being appointed OSC operators in several countries.

Apart from that, Fadzil, who is the 14th prosecution witness, said his company had also sent a letter to Ahmad Zahid on Oct 17, 2016, to seek support for the VLN and eVisa to become the ‘de facto’ system for the visa issuance process at all visa issuing offices.

During cross-examination by lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh, representing Ahmad Zahid, Abdul Rahim agreed that the recommendation to appoint Profound Radiance Sdn Bhd and Foshwa Sdn Bhd as OSC operators for Bangladesh and other South Asian countries came from the Home Ministry and not from Ahmad Zahid, who was the home minister at the time.

When asked by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran on whether a minister must follow the recommendations submitted by a division or government officials under him, Abdul Rahim replied: “Not necessarily.”

Ahmad Zahid served as the home minister between 2013 and 2018.

Ahmad Zahid, 69, is facing 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56mil (RM42mil) from UKSB as an inducement for himself in his capacity as a civil servant and then home minister to extend the contract of the company as the operator of the OSC in China and the VLN system as well as to maintain the agreement to supply VLN integrated system paraphernalia to the same company by the Home Ministry.

For another seven counts, Ahmad Zahid was charged as home minister to have obtained for himself S$1,150,000, RM3mil, 15,000 euros and US$15,000 in cash from the same company in connection with his official work.

He is alleged to have committed all the acts at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and in Country Heights, Kajang between October 2014 and March 2018.

The trial before Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa continues today. — Bernama