Tuesday, October 19, 2021

High Court to deliver verdict on Isa Samad’s RM3 million graft case

High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will decide on Feb 3 whether Isa is guilty of nine charges of corruption involving Felda's purchase of a hotel in Kuching.

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Former Felda chairman Isa Samad will know his fate on nine corruption charges involving RM3 million over the agency’s purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak, on Feb 3.

High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will decide whether Isa, 71, who is also former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar, is guilty of the offence or not.

According to the court cause list, Nazlan is expected to deliver his ruling at 9.30am.

Isa was charged with nine counts of dishonestly receiving gratification for himself in cash totalling RM3,090,000 from Ikhwan Zaidel, who is a board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd, through his former special political officer Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, as gratification for helping to approve the purchase of the hotel by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) for RM160 million.

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

The charges were framed under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law which 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.

Hearing of the case began on Oct 8, 2019 with the prosecution calling 22 witnesses, including former Felda director-general Hanapi Suhada, former CEO of FICSB Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil, Ikhwan and Zahid.

On June 16 2020, Nazlan ordered Isa to enter his defence on the nine corruption charges after finding that the prosecution had successfully adduced credible evidence proving each essential ingredient of the offence of accepting gratification under Section 16 (a)(A) of the MACC Act.

The judge however discharged and acquitted Isa of one criminal breach of trust charge over the hotel purchase for RM160 million without the approval of the Felda Board of Directors after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against him.

Isa chose to give his sworn statement from the witness stand, and his defence proceedings were held on Aug 17 last year.

In his testimony, Isa denied receiving RM3 million in nine transactions from Zahid over the purchase of MPHS in 2014.

“I never instructed Zahid to ask Haji Ikhwan (Ikhwan Zaidel) to reward me for helping to approve the purchase of MPHS,” he said.

On Sept 3 last year, the defence closed its case after calling six witnesses, including Isa’s former secretary Zuraida Ariffin @ Shaari and former special officer Kamar Bashah Shariff, with Isa himself called as the first witness.

On 24 Dec last year, during submissions at the end of the defence, counsel Salehuddin Saidin, representing Isa, said the RM3 million was for Zahid and his cronies and not for his client.

Deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz argued that Zuraida’s testimony showed that Zahid had the freedom to enter Isa’s room without permission, and that his presence in the accused’s room was not recorded by Zuraida.

“This is enough to prove that Zahid has easy access to the accused’s room, and he could have easily entered the accused’s room to hand over the money from Ikhwan as he had testified. This clearly shows that Zuraida did not see Zahid handing over the money to the accused,” he said.

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