National interests involved in govt’s NFCorp suit, says lawyer

NFCorp chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail with his wife, former women, family and community development minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer today defended Putrajaya’s decision to recover the RM253 million loan given to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) through court proceedings, saying it was made in national interests.

R Kengadharan added that such action should have been taken long ago by the previous Barisan Nasional administration.

“So the new administration has not been hasty in going to court to get the money, as it is being done in national interests,” he told FMT.

He compared the government’s action in the NFCorp case to efforts to recover 1MDB assets from overseas as well as locally, saying there, too, public funds are involved.

He also said the parties involved could reach an amicable settlement to prevent a protracted legal battle.

“This is provided that the defendants satisfy the demands of the government before recording a judgment,” he added.

Kengadharan was responding to NFCorp chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail, who yesterday questioned the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ suit to recover the loan, saying NFCorp had offered to repay the loan in full seven months ago.

Salleh, the husband of former Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, added however that he would cooperate with the government to resolve the situation in the best way possible.

In 2007, the government approved a RM250 million loan to NFCorp to turn the local cattle industry into a large-scale business with the aim of helping Malaysia become self-sufficient in beef production.

Last Friday, Putrajaya filed a suit against NFCorp which is managed by Salleh’s family.

It named Salleh, the couple’s three children and six companies owned by the family as defendants in its statement of claim.

The total of RM253.62 million claimed against NFCorp and Salleh’s family represents the sum owed to the government, together with interest at 2% per annum and default interest on RM224.77 million.

Putrajaya is also seeking a declaration to hold Salleh’s family personally liable for the debt repayment of RM118.04 million allegedly misappropriated from the loan.

It said it is also entitled to claim equitable titles to the properties bought using NFCorp’s RM250 million loan from the government.

The Auditor-General’s Report in 2011 exposed the scandal surrounding NFC along with the involvement of Shahrizat’s family in the project.

Shahrizat stepped down as women, family and community development minister in April 2012.