Lawyer: Bank chairman made nothing from RM15m book project

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KUALA LUMPUR: There was no monetary gain made by Bank Rakyat Chairman Abdul Aziz Zainal from a RM15 million book project, his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said in court today, Malay Mail Online (MMO) reported.

Aziz is charged with abetting in the alleged criminal breach of trust (CBT) committed by the bank’s managing director Mustafha Abdul Razak, over the project which was for a coffee table commemorative book on a former national leader.

“If there is any suggestion about the RM14 odd million sum of CBT, I will tell you that not a single sen of that amount has been found to be in his possession,” Shafee was quoted by the news portal as saying.

Shafee said this when arguing that the retired and decorated general could not afford the RM2 million bail amount sought by the prosecution.

“I have taken instruction from my client that if Your Honour were to grant a bail of anything above RM400,000, my client would really have to land himself in jail.

“Because he is a public servant, he doesn’t have money, he has always been a public servant,” Shafee told Sessions Court judge Madihah Harullah, according to MMO.

Shafee then requested for the court to let Aziz settle his RM400,000 bail before 3pm tomorrow as his bailor and wife have to liquidate her assets to obtain the bail money. Judge Madinah allowed the request.

Shafee also told the court that during Aziz’s seven-day remand period, after his arrest by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Aug 29, Aziz’s statement was only taken two days before he was freed.

“During interrogation he was pressured by three individuals to make statements that were not ‘totally voluntary’,” he said to judge Madinah.

Following, Aziz’s arrest, the MACC also froze a bank account belonging to him containing RM1 million.

Meanwhile, Deputy Public Prosecutor Masri Mohd Daud told the court that the prosecution will prove that the crime of CBT and abetment had indeed occurred, resulting in Bank Rakyat, an Islamic-based cooperative bank under the purview of the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry losing nearly RM15 million.

The next mention date is set for October 10.

At the same court, earlier this morning, Mustafha was charged with CBT amounting to RM15 million while Aziz was charged with abetting him.

Aziz, who is a retired army general, pleaded not guilty and claimed trial to a charge under Section 109 of the Penal Code for abetment, read together with Section 409 of the same law.

He was present in court together with Mustafha, who also pleaded not guilty to a charge under Section 409.

Anyone convicted under Section 409, which relates to an act of CBT by a public servant or agent, faces a jail term of a minimum two years or maximum 20 years and with whipping, and shall also be liable to a fine.

The Sessions Court judge eventually granted bail at RM400,000 with one surety each and ordered that their passports be surrendered to court.