Former MAIDAM Council Member and Wife Charged with Abuse of Power and False Claims in Zakat Distribution

Former MAIDAM member and wife charged with misusing authority and submitting false claims to siphon nearly RM20,000 in zakat funds, highlighting the need for transparency and accountability in managing Islamic charitable funds.

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Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Former MAIDAM Council Member and Wife Charged with Abuse of Power  and False Claims in Zakat Distribution

Former MAIDAM Council Member and Wife Charged with Abuse of Power and False Claims in Zakat Distribution

Datuk Mohamad Zahari Harun, a former member of the Terengganu Islamic Religion and Malay Customs Council (MAIDAM), and his wife Lydia Irmawati Mahmud have been charged with misusing authority and submitting false claims related to the distribution of zakat (Islamic charitable funds) amounting to nearly RM20,000 between 2019 and 2021 in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

Mohamad Zahari, 64, is accused of misusing his position by participating in the decision to appoint his wife's company, Amcare Agency, as a zakat collection agent. Lydia Irmawati, 41, is facing eight charges of defrauding MAIDAM by submitting false information in refund claims for the poor and needy.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry maximum sentences of 20 years' imprisonment for misuse of authority and 10 years' imprisonment for submitting false claims. The court has granted them bail and imposed additional conditions, such as prohibiting them from contacting prosecution witnesses and ordering them to surrender their international passports.

Why this matters: The case highlights the importance of transparency and accountability in the management of Islamic charitable funds, which are meant to support the less fortunate in society. It also underscores the need for strict oversight to prevent misuse of authority and misappropriation of funds by those entrusted with their distribution.

The case will be mentioned and have a case management hearing on May 20, 2024, via Zoom. Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Sophian Zakaria appeared for the prosecution, while lawyers Mohd Hayyatuddin Muhamad and Aiman Khair Abdullah represented Mohamad Zahari and Lydia Irmawati, respectively. "The prosecution did not object to bail, but with conditions that the two accused surrender their passports to the court until the disposal of the case," said Mohd Sophian.

Key Takeaways

  • Former MAIDAM member and wife charged with misusing authority and false claims
  • Accused of appointing wife's company as zakat collection agent and submitting false refund claims
  • Pleaded not guilty, face up to 20 years imprisonment for misuse of authority and 10 years for false claims
  • Case highlights need for transparency and accountability in managing Islamic charitable funds
  • Bail granted with conditions, case management hearing scheduled for May 20, 2024