Finance ministry’s NFCorp suit driven by politics, claims Najib

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

PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak has claimed that the finance ministry’s decision to file a civil suit against National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail and nine others is driven by political motives.

In a Facebook post, the former prime minister explained that for nine years, his political opponents had linked him to the issue of the RM250 million loan given to NFCorp in 2006, before he became finance minister or PM.

The loan was to finance the setting up and operation of a national feedlot centre in Gemas, Negeri Sembilan.

He said after NFCorp received the loan, it had trouble executing the project due to the delay in the completion of supporting infrastructure projects by the agriculture ministry.

NFCorp, he said, had then taken the decision to invest some money into other investments in a bid to generate income to pay the loan interest, although this went against the terms of the loan.

The Barisan Nasional-led government, Najib said, had considered taking legal action to recoup the RM250 million, but did not as NFCorp informed the government that they were negotiating with big local and international companies to take over the project, as well as repay the loan with interest.

“Eventually, NFCorp succeeded in finding a buyer and wrote to the government to seek approval for the new party to take over the project.

“This new buyer is said to have the financial strength and a holistic plan to make the project a success.”

But, he claimed, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng did not want to give the approval and instead chose to take civil action against NFCorp to repay the loan with interest.

“This can be considered strange if the intention and priority is to get back the funds and make the project a success.”

Just last week, Najib said, Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who is said to be close to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had urged the finance ministry to be open to ideas in resolving the NFCorp issue.

He added that current Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub also said the issue has to be resolved quickly.

Najib claimed that the finance minister had no choice but to take legal action against NFCorp and reject any repayment or plans to continue with the project as the former opposition had used the issue for political propaganda, alleging that he siphoned off the money.

“So, it is quite hard for DAP to admit to their supporters now that the money was not really siphoned off but that it was a loan where the borrower wants to repay the loan with interest.”

Previously, NFCorp chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail, the husband of former Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, questioned the civil suit filed by the government to demand payment of the loan, saying the company had offered to repay it in full seven months ago.

The RM253.62 million claim 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.