While set-up using a RM250 million government loan, the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) remains to be a private company that is only answerable to its board members and shareholders.
NFC chairperson Mohd Salleh Ismail said this as the first prosecution witness in the trial against PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) Act 1989.
“I am audited as a private company and I am answerable to my board.
“I am also a shareholder (in NFC)... My job is to make the National Feedlot Centre project successful. The company is not answerable to the public,” Salleh told judge Zamri Bakar who presided over the hearing at the Shah Alam Sessions Court.
In his testimony, Salleh confirmed that the RM250 million loan to set-up the National Feedlot Centre was approved by a High-Impact Committee project, at the time chaired by then deputy prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.
“(But) as soon as the money is transferred, we pay interest. So it is no longer government’s money,” he said.
He also clarified that there are government representatives from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Negri Sembilan state-government on the board of NFC who would be periodically updated on all activities related to its operations.
“Definitely not the job of the company to brief the public until it is listed.
“A Sdn Bhd (company) is private and you have no right to go into my accounts and release it to everybody,” he said to questions from DPP Lailawati Ali.
Rafizi had on Aug 1, 2012, claimed trial to the charge under Section 97 of the Bafia Act of having disclosed four financial accounts linked to NFC and Salleh, held by Public Bank, to two reporters.
The hearing today comes nearly two years after Rafizi obtained a stay from the Shah Alam High Court in August 2015, pending the hearing of his appeal to declare that the charge as unconstitutional.
Also present in court was former Public Bank clerk Johari Mohamad who was charged with abetment under Section 112(1)(c) of Bafia.
Salleh earlier this morning said that aside from NFC, there were also separate Public Bank accounts set-up for its main subsidiary, National Meat and Livestock Corporations (NMLC) and Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd - his company which had originally won a government tender to operate a national feedlot project in 2007.
‘We have several accounts with several banks’
“We have several accounts with several banks but most active at the time was Public Bank,” said Salleh.
Asked whether he had at any time lodged a complaint on any of the accounts, Salleh said he had written an official letter of complaint to Public Bank on March 20, 2012, which was also forwarded to then-Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
The complaints was based on a press statement and financial documents released by Rafizi during a news conference at PKR headquarters on March 7 the same year.
Salleh said the documents had revealed confidential information pertaining to NFC’s accounts with Public Bank, including a collateral account which he explained was an account that stated the amount of loan applied from the bank for consideration of its top management.
Among others, he said the collateral account showed details of NFC’s loan application in May 2011 to purchase eight office units at KL Eco City.
During cross-examination, defence counsel Latheefa Koya however argued that only Salleh or people with knowledge of the matter would be able to identify the accounts, based on the press statement and documents, as being from Public Bank.
She also said that since the RM250 million was sourced from the government, it would be in the public interest to know how it had been spent.
Aside from Salleh, the prosecution today called two other witnesses, GRA Communications CEO Ghazalie Abdullah and Salleh’s former executive secretary Wan Zurina Saarani.
Hearing will resume at 9.30am tomorrow.- Mkini