Monday, March 1, 2021

Isa’s former aide given RM2 million, court told

Mohamad Jani Ismail says the money was given to Muhammad Zahid Md Arip as a token of gratitude for his role in the sale and purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel in Kuching.

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The High Court in Kuala Lumpur was told today that a former special political officer to Isa Samad was given RM2 million as a token of gratitude for being the link in the sale and purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak.

Mohamad Jani Ismail, 58, said he learnt about the matter from Muhammad Zahid Md Arip himself, who told him about it before a meeting with Japanese investors at a hotel in Putrajaya on June 8, 2018.

“Before the investors from Japan arrived at about 10pm, Zahid said he wanted to go to the smoking area to smoke and I, who was then accompanying Dahalan Tunggal (who was also there to attend the meeting), went to accompany him.

“While we were smoking, I said to Zahid that he must be rich, having been appointed as the prime minister’s political secretary.”

Zahid was the political secretary to Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the time.

Jani said Zahid responded, saying he had “some” from being the link in the sale and purchase of Merdeka Palace and that he was given RM2 million as a token of gratitude.

Jani, a retired army officer and the fourth defence witness, said this when reading his witness statement on the third day of Isa’s defence trial for corruption charges.

He added that Zahid had then told him that Isa did not know about the RM2 million.

When asked during cross-examination by deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz whether he told Isa about it, he said he had.

When asked if Isa had been charged in court yet at the time, Jani said he did not know.

However, he said Isa, the former Felda chairman, did not ask him to report the matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

He disagreed with Afzainizam who suggested that Zahid had never confessed to receiving the money, and differed again when Afzainizam said the confession should have been reported to MACC as it was important.

He also disagreed with the suggestion that Zahid’s confession was made to save Isa.

When re-examined by Isa’s lawyer Salehuddin Saidin about why he did not lodge a police report, Jani said he regarded the money given to Zahid as a token of thanks. He added that Zahid had admitted to receiving the money, saying he did not know if that could be seen as corruption.

Isa is facing nine counts of dishonestly receiving gratification for himself in cash totalling RM3,090,000 from Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd board member Ikhwan Zaidel through Zahid as gratification for helping to get approval for the purchase of the hotel by FICSB for RM160 million.

The offences were allegedly committed at Level 49, Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC near here between July 21, 2014 and Dec 11, 2015.

Each charge, framed under Section 16 a(A) of the MACC Act 2009 and punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law, provides for a jail term of not exceeding 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The defence closed its case yesterday after calling six witnesses. Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali set Nov 4 to hear submissions by both parties.

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