Wife of Malaysia’s ex-finance minister charged over failure to disclose assets

Iman Muttaqin Yusof
Kuala Lumpur
Wife of Malaysia’s ex-finance minister charged over failure to disclose assets Na’imah Abdul Khalid (middle), the wife of former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, with her son Muhammad Amir Zainuddin outside the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, Jan. 23, 2024.
S. Mahfuz/BenarNews

A Malaysian court on Tuesday charged the wife of former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin for failing to declare assets including companies, luxury cars and properties as part of an anti-corruption probe into the family’s wealth.

Na’imah Abdul Khalid, 65, pleaded not guilty to ignoring a request to report her assets made by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Nov. 8.

Judge Azura Alwi in the Kuala Lumpur Session Court released Na’imah on 250,000 ringgit (U.S. $52,800) bail and seized her passport.

Outside the courthouse, Na’imah claimed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was “pursuing old political rivals” with trumped up charges and accused him of influencing the courts.

“I say this to you, Anwar Ibrahim, that power is brief and there is always a reckoning for those who abuse it,” she told reporters.

Na'imah, whose husband served as finance minister twice between 1984 and 2001, maintained her innocence and said she would fight the charges.

“The real crime is the wielding of state power for personal ends and not for the benefit of the people,” she said.

“The real crime is targeting your political opponents with concocted charges whilst, to the outrage of an entire country, corruption charges are dropped against political cronies.”

The next case hearing is scheduled for March 22, where a trial date could be set. If found guilty, she faces up to five years in jail and a 100,000 ringgit ($21,117) fine.

Malaysia’s anti-graft agency is investigating Daim following revelations in the Pandora Papers that linked the family to offshore businesses valued at least $31 million. The tycoon contends the investigation is unlawful and unconstitutional, and has denied any wrongdoing.

Earlier this month, Na’imah and her two sons were summoned to MACC headquarters in the administrative capital Putrajaya to give statements relating to the case.

At the time, Na’imah said her husband’s business success was being used as an excuse to tarnish his reputation.

A file photo of former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin speaking during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. [AP Photo/Andy Wong]

A Jan. 18 report by local news website MalaysiaKini, based on leaked documents, linked Na’imah and her sons to an offshore trust account allegedly holding $52.5 million worth of assets as of 2020. 

She said the assets were derived from legitimate business activities and investments. 

In late December, MACC seized the family’s 60-storey Ilham Tower located in Kuala Lumpur, said to be worth 2.7 billion ringgit ($570 million), as part of its investigation.

The alleged non-disclosure of assets related to the latest charge includes ownership in companies Ilham Tower Sdn Bhd and Ilham Baru Sdn Bhd, a Mercedes-Benz EQC400, a Mercedes-Benz SL 500, and various properties in Kuala Lumpur and the northern state of Penang.

Daim’s legal team, led by former Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, last week filed an application to the Kuala Lumpur High Court challenging the legitimacy of MACC's investigation. 

The revelations in the Pandora Papers investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have also implicated the son of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an ally of Daim. 

The Pandora Papers and the Panama Papers – leaked documents revealing the offshore assets of some of the world’s wealthiest people – showed businessman Mirzan Mahathir held millions of dollars overseas.

On Monday, Mahathir accused Anwar of using the corruption accusations to go after rivals.

MACC has given 66-year-old Mirzan a 30-day deadline to provide details of all transactions he has conducted since the age of 20, said Mahathir. 

“They are instructing my son to provide evidence so that I can be charged [as well],” the 98-year-old told reporters. 

Last week, local media quoted Anwar saying the anti-graft watchdog was only carrying out its job to battle corruption without fear or favor.

“This is a MACC matter. However, I don’t want people to think that this [corruption] is a small matter. Whether the cases are old or new, they have to be investigated,” he said.

“Let them criticize. If we were to save this country, we have to clean it up so that no other leaders plunder its wealth.”


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