The woman at the centre of a defamation suit by Azam Baki says her articles accusing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief were written after discussion with Edmund Terrence Gomez, the former panel adviser to the anti-graft body who resigned in December citing allegations contained in her articles.
In her statement of defence sighted by MalaysiaNow, Lalitha Kunaratnam also made clear that the articles were written in her capacity as a researcher with C4 Consultancies Sdn Bhd, the company that operates C4 Center, an outfit led by activist Cynthia Gabriel which describes itself as a corruption watchdog.
Lalitha said allegations over Azam’s share ownership were first carried anonymously on a Twitter handle before they were discussed “in greater detail” with Gomez.
She said details of the anonymous allegations were also emailed to both Gomez and Cynthia in October last year.
“The defendant, in accordance with the terms of her employment contract with C4, offered to write an in-depth investigative report on the allegations,” said the defence statement filed on her behalf this week by legal firm Ibrahim & Fuaadah.
Lalitha subsequently published two articles in a website called “Independent News Service”.
Cynthia had said last month that “C4 Center is not linked in any way to her current professional writings with the Independent News Service (INS),” adding that Lalitha had not been an employee since December 2020.
Lalitha’s statement of defence however said she had been contracted to work as a “research consultant” for C4 Center, adding that her duties included “strengthening investigations on select fields”, and that she reported to Gomez.
Weeks after the publication of her articles, Gomez resigned from MACC’s Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel, citing unhappiness that the allegations by Lalitha were ignored.
This triggered calls from Pakatan Harapan politicians for the MACC boss to be investigated.
The Securities Commission later conducted a probe and concluded that Azam had not breached Section 25(4) of the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act 1991.
In a separate email to Azam, SC chairman Syed Zaid Albar said it had closed its inquiry file on him.
On Jan 12, Azam filed a RM10 million suit against Lalitha after she failed to comply with a letter of demand over the articles, “Business ties among MACC leadership: How deep does it go? (Part 1)” and “Business ties among MACC leadership: How deep does it go? (Part 2)”.
In her defence statement, Lalitha denied having malicious intentions in writing the articles, adding that they were based on fair comment and were for public interest.
“The articles do not relate exclusively to the plaintiff but address the broader national and political issues of possible corruption and their links to business entities that are highlighted in the Malaysian media,” the statement added.