CEO was not informed of Felcra proposal to invest RM50 mil over office cold war, says witness
The Sessions Court on Monday (March 28) was told that Felcra’s proposal to invest RM50 million in Public Mutual Berhad unit trust was made without the knowledge of the chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Ramlee Abu Bakar, as there was an office cold war in Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra).
Former Felcra group chief financial officer (CFO) Mohd Azmy Abu Samah, 54, said he did not announce the investment proposal after discussion with the chief investment officer (CIO) Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope.
“When I discussed with the CIO (Zulkarnain), I said the matter (investment proposal) should be brought to the Top Management Council (MPT) but Zulkarnain said if it went through the CEO (Datuk Ramlee), he would not process as it was from Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who was Felcra chairman then.
“Datuk Zulkarnain joined one year earlier than me so he was more familiar with Felcra culture. He advised me that there was a cold war between the old team and the new team. As I was new, there was a possibility that relation between the chairman (Bung Moktar) and the CEO (Ramlee) was not good,” he said.
The 26th witness said in an examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Mohd Sophian Zakaria at the corruption trial involving Bung Moktar and his wife Datin Seri Zizie Izette Abdul Samad before Judge Rozina Ayob.
Touching on whether the matter was announced to the CEO, Mohd Azmy said he did not inform the CEO but maybe Felcra Credit Control senior manager Azriman Ridouan told Ramlee.
According to Mohd Azmy, major investments relating to agriculture or business would be brought to MPT but the RM50 million investment was not brought to MPT as the CEO was not familiar in the investment field.
Mohd Azmy said he heeded the advice of Zulkarnain even though they were of the same rank, as he knew the proposal was earlier put into “cold storage” when it was handed to Ramlee.
Questioned by Mohd Sophian on whether Ramlee was informed on the investment proposal, the witness said,” I did not inform Ramlee on the investment but I am not sure of Azriman who was aware of the matter.
Meanwhile, Mohd Azmy told the court that Bung Moktar had asked him to look into whether Felcra could make the investment one month after the unit trust consultant, Norhaili Ahmad Mokhtar came to his office to present the investment.
“After meeting Norhaili in the office, Datuk Bung asked him whether she (Norhaili) came or not. I told him she came and made a presentation (on the unit trust product ). I said so far I did not make any commitment as I was busy with pre-audit and budget for next year.
“After that, Datuk Bung told me to look into the matter if possible..,” he said and also stated that Bung Moktar had introduced Norhaili to him when he was at a hari raya celebration at the house of the Kinabatangan MP.
Mohd Sophian asked what was Mohd Azmy’s action after receiving the order from Bung Moktar to look at (Public Mutual unit trust investment).
Mohd Azmy said he asked Azriman to carry out a study on the unit trust investment as well as looking into the unit trust market, stock exchange situation compared with other companies.
“The analysis found the market then had fallen and it was the best time to invest in unit trust,” he said.
The witness said he later took the approach of looking into the financial position of Felcra after being informed by Azriman that a Public Mutual investment agent had enquired if Felcra was interested in investing in the unit trust.
“I asked Azriman and Mariah Husain (Felcra finance general manager) to carry out a simulation and prepare a proposal paper to invest in the unit trust,” he said.
The proceeding continues on Tuesday (March 29).
On May 3, 2019, Bung Moktar, 64, pleaded not guilty to two charges of receiving bribes amounting to RM2.2 million and RM262,500 as an inducement to obtain the approval of Felcra to make a RM150 million investment in Public Mutual.
Bung Moktar who was the non-executive chairman of Felcra then allegedly received the bribes from Madhi through Zizie Izette at the Public Bank branch in Taman Melawati here between 12.30pm and 5pm on June 12, 2015.
He also pleaded not guilty to receiving cash bribes of RM335,500 from Norhaili under Zizie Izette’s name for the same reason at the same place on June 19, 2015 while Zizie Izette, 44, pleaded not guilty to three charges of abetting with her husband on the matter at the same place, date and time.
Bung Moktar trial: Transfer of RM150m approved by Felcra GM and board member
A witness told the sessions court here today that Felcra Berhad is not authorised to invest in shares and the matter requires an approval from the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MKD).
Former Felcra Berhad general manager (Investment) Adnan Yusof, 60, said the company’s Board of Directors could not make any decision on the matter without the approval of MKD as any category of stock investment without the approval of MKD as Felcra’s investment is limited top only its core business, which is plantation and manufacturing.
“Domestic investments in excess of RM125 million need the approval of the Board of Directors and verified by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry (then).
“For foreign investment, whether on joint venture or on its own, Felcra needs to get approval from the Finance Ministry,” he added.
Adnan, who is the second prosecution witness, said this when reading out his witness statement during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Mohamad Fadhly Mohd Zamry on the second day of trail of a corruption case involving Kinabatangan Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (pix) and his wife, actress Datin Seri Zizie Ezette A. Samad,
Adnan, who was Felcra Company Secretary from 1998 to 2014, said matters pertaining to authorisation of approval could be referred to a Finance Ministry Letter dated March 18, 2014, with the title “Peningkatan Had Kuasa Lembaga Pengarah Untuk Meluluskan Pelaburan Berkaitan Core Business Felcra Berhad” (Increase in authority of Board of Directors to approve Felcra Berhad Core Business-related investments”.
He also confirmed Bung Moktar’s appointment as Felcra Non-Executive Chairman on July 17, 2013.
“His term of service was for three years, from July 17, 2013 to July 16, 2016,” he said, adding that Felcra Berhad chairman is a non-executive post that is appointed by MKD and paid monthly and meeting allowances.
Questioned by Mohamad Fadhly, whether there is a difference between a non-executive chairman and an executive chairman, Adnan said “yes”.
Mohamad Fadhly: Can you explain the difference?
To a question by deputy public prosecutor Roslan Mat Nor whether Felcra’s objective, after its incorporation, was to consolidate and rehabilitate idle land, Adnan said “yes”.
Roslan: Can you explain the difference in Felcra before and after its incorporation?
Adnan: Prior to its incorporation, Felcra was a government body that was not allowed to engage in business, but after its was incorporated, Felcra could generate its own income and increase productivity, and was no longer a burden to the government.
Roslan: Was the role of the board of directors different after it was incorporated?
Adnan: Before it was incorporated, Felcra was answerable to the government and the parliament, but after the incorporation, all become the responsibility of the board of directors
Yesterday, before the trial began, Bung Moktar maintained his not guilty plea to three charges of corruption, which were read out to him again.
According to the first charge, Bung Moktar who was at that time the non-executive chairman of Felcra was charged with taking a bribe of RM2.2 million from Public Mutual investment agent Madhi Abdul Hamid, 38, through his wife Zizie Ezette.
He was accused of committing the offence as an inducement to obtain approval from Finance Minister II for Felcra to invest RM150 million in Public Mutual unit trust products.
The offence was allegedly carried out at Taman Melawati branch of Public Bank Berhad at No. 262-265, Jalan Bandar 12, Taman Melawati here between 12.30pm and 5pm on June 12 2015.
For the second charge, Bung Moktar was charged with receiving RM262,500 in bribes for himself from the same individual, Madhi through Public Islamic Treasures Growth Fund (PITGF) account number 044797816 registered under Zizie Ezette’s name for the same purpose.
Bung Moktar was accused of obtaining RM337,500 bribe from Public Mutual investment agent, Norhaili Ahmad Mokhtar, 42, via Public Ittikal Sequel Fund (Pitseq) account number 044797824 registered under Zizie Ezette for the same purpose.
Both offences were allegedly committed at the same location at 12.16 pm and 12.28 pm on June 19 2015 and all charges were made under Subsection 17(a) of the MACC Act and can be sentenced under Section 24 (1) of the same act which provides for a jail term not exceeding 20 years and fine not less than five times of the bribe amount or RM10,000 whichever is higher upon conviction.
Zizie Ezette also pleaded not guilty to the three charges of abetting with her husband on the same matter at the same place, dates and time under Section 28(1) (c ) of the MACC Act and can be punished under Subsection 24 (1) of the same act which carries a prison term of not more than 20 years, and fine not less than five times of the bribe or RM10,000 whichever is higher if found guilty.
Source : The Sun