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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

NFCorp Boss Charged With CBT in 'Cowgate' scandal!

Day in court: Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail (above) leaving the courthouse after being charged. Also present were his wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and their son Wan Shahinur Izmir Salleh (below).

KUALA LUMPUR: The executive chairman of the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd has claimed trial at the Sessions Court here to two counts of committing breach of trust and two counts of violating the Companies Act 1965 involving RM49.7mil.

Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail, 64, arrived in court at 2.15pm accompanied by his wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, their eldest son Wan Shahinur Izmir and other family members.

The charges were read to Dr Mohamad Salleh at 2.27pm before judge S.M. Komathy Suppiah in a packed courtroom.

The proceedings yesterday marked a new chapter in the NFCorp controversy which arose after the Auditor-General's 2010 Report highlighted the failure of the National Feedlot Centre to achieve its target, and which grew with revelations that the company had used the government-funded soft loan for purposes not related to cattle breeding.

Dr Mohamad Salleh was charged with dishonestly misusing funds amounting to RM9,758,140 through four cheques to partly finance the purchase of two units of One Menerung Condominium in Block B here for the National Meat and Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd, which he owns with one of his sons.

According to the charge, he committed the offence in his capacity as an NFCorp director entrusted with control over the company's assets.

He is said to have committed the offence at CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd in Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, here between Dec 1 and 4, 2009.

Dr Mohamad Salleh was charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine and whipping.

He is also accused under Section 132(2)(a) of the Companies Act 1965 of committing the offence without approval from an annual general meeting of NFCorp to gain profit directly.

He is also accused of transferring NFCorp's funds of RM40mil through a cheque into the National Meat and Livestock Corporation's account at the same bank from May 6 to Nov 16, 2009.

For this, he faces charges of criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Dzulkifli Ahmad, Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Azimul Azami prosecuted while the defence was led by Badrul Munir Bukhari.

Pleading for a lower bail, counsel Badrul Munir said Dr Mohamad Salleh had given his full cooperation to the police and prosecution, and his client was in court to clear his name. He applied to release the accused on a RM50,000 personal bond for each charge.

Dzulkifli said the prosecution had no objection to the application as they did not see why Dr Mohamad Salleh would flee the country. He, however, said the accused should surrender all his travel documents to the court.

Dzulkifli applied to the court under Section 165 of the Criminal Procedure Code for a single trial for all the charges.

Judge Komathy agreed to a single trial and set bail of RM500,000 with one surety for all four charges.
She also ordered Mohamad Salleh to surrender his passport pending mention of his case on April 13.

Wan Shahinur Izmir paid the bail.

Shahrizat was impassive in court and declined to speak to reporters after the proceedings.

Malaysian minister to step down in midst of 'Cowgate' scandal
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is greeted by Malaysian Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development Shahrizat Abdul Jalil before a town hall event at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (EVAN VUCCI / AP)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is greeted by Malaysian Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development Shahrizat Abdul Jalil before a town hall event at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (EVAN VUCCI / AP)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian minister said Sunday she will step down amid accusations that her family misused a 250 million ringgit ($83 million) government loan meant for a cattle project to purchase condominiums, vacations and a Mercedes. 

The scandal, dubbed "Cowgate,'' has greatly embarrassed Prime Minister Najib Razak ahead of general elections widely expected to be called by June. 

After months of resisting calls from critics to step down, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she will resign as minister of women, family and community on April 8 once her term as senator ends. 

Shahrizat said her decision had nothing to do with the cattle project run by her husband and three children but that she is stepping down as a "responsible member of the government.'' She will, however, stay on as chief of the women's wing of the ruling Malay party. 

The scandal emerged last year after the auditor-general's annual report said the National Feedlot Center run by Shahrizat's family had not met its goal of making the country 40 per cent self-sufficient in beef production by 2010. 

Since then, opposition parties have accused the company of using a government loan allocated for cattle rearing to purchase property including luxury condominiums in Malaysia and Singapore and other personal items. Shahrizat's family has denied any wrongdoing, saying the company was allowed to use the loan at its discretion and that the properties would earn it rental income. 

Police have recommended that the company's directors be charged with criminal breach of trust but the attorney-general has asked police to conduct further investigations. 

Najib said Shahrizat's resignation was a sacrifice in the interest of the government and party. 

"Although there is no proof so far that she had committed any offence in terms of law, because the (project) has drawn controversy and dispute, she was willing to withdraw from the government,'' the national Bernama news agency quoted him as saying. 

Analysts said Shahrizat's resignation wasn't surprising as Najib isn't likely to renew her senatorship. 

"Cowgate is a big blow to Najib as it shows he is slow to act on allegations of high-level corruption,'' said James Chin, a political science lecturer at Monash University in Malaysia. 

Najib's National Front coalition suffered its worst performance in 2008 polls, losing more than a third of Parliament's seats to a resurgent opposition amid widespread discontent over the government's handling of problems such as corruption and racial discrimination. 

While the ruling coalition isn't expected to lose power in upcoming polls, scandals such as Cowgate make it tougher for Najib to consolidate his power. General elections are not due until 2013 but are widely expected in the next few months.

Related Stories:
Muhyiddin commends Shahrizat's brave decision
Shahrizat absent from opening of Parliament  

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