Thursday, December 2, 2021

Court reinstates RM15 billion suit by Puncak Niaga against Selangor govt, ex-MB Khalid

However, court upholds earlier decision to cancel the claim against Khalid's successor, Azmin Ali.

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The Court of Appeal today reinstated a RM15 billion suit against the Selangor government and former menteri besar Khalid Samad filed by the state’s former water conceissionaire Puncak Niaga.

The court however dismissed a claim against another defendant named by the company, senior minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, who took over from Khalid in 2014 in the aftermath of the Selangor water restructuring.

In the ruling today, a three-man panel comprising judges Hanipah Farikullah, Nantha Balan ES Moorthy and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera upheld an earlier High Court decision to strike off the claim against Azmin, but ordered Khalid and the state government to go to trial.

The court also ordered Puncak Niaga to pay Azmin costs of RM10,000.

In the suit filed by Puncak Niaga in 2018, the company accused them of abusing their powers as public officials by threatening to cause or attempting to cause the federal government to use the Water Services Industry Act 2006 to force a takeover of Selangor’s water industry.

It claimed, among others, that the suspension of negotiations on efforts to restructure the water industry in Selangor for five years was for the personal political benefit of Azmin and Khalid.

It also alleged that the negotiations were not based on the concept of “willing buyer, willing seller”, causing Puncak Niaga to suffer losses and damages.

Puncak Niaga had demanded damages and costs associated with losing business opportunities both locally and abroad amounting to RM13.5 billion.

It also sought damages on the difference between the value of PNSB Water Sdn Bhd, formerly known as Puncak Niaga (M) Sdn Bhd, and Syabas at rates of RM2.08 billion to RM2.35 billion, and a real purchase consideration of RM1.56 billion under the share purchase agreement dated Nov 11, 2014 between Puncak Niaga and Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd.

The High Court in February 2018 allowed the applications by Azmin, Khalid and the state government to cancel the suit, holding that Puncak Niaga’s statement of claim did not comply with the rules of the court.

Puncak Niaga later filed an appeal against the ruling, which was dismissed by the courts today.

Puncak Niaga was represented by Gopal Sreenevasan and Razlan Hadri; Khalid was represented by Edmund Bon and New Sin Yew; Azmin was represented by N Surendran and Masturina Rodzi; and the Selangor government was represented by its legal adviser.

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