Isa Samad’s aide, ex-CEO didn’t get bribes in Felda hotel purchase, court told

Muhammad Zahid Md Arip (left), who was the aide for Isa Samad, says he helped his former boss to collect money.

KUALA LUMPUR: The investigating officer in Isa Samad’s corruption case told the High Court today he did not recommend to the public prosecutor that he press charges against several individuals who were involved in Felda’s proposal to buy a hotel in Kuching.

Mohamad Safari Abdullah from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said from evidence he had gathered during the investigation, he was unable to find any conspiracy between Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil, Muhammad Zahid Md Arip and Sarawakian businessman Ikhwan Zaidel in ensuring that Felda would buy Merdeka Palace Hotel and Suites.

Zaid was the then chief executive officer of Felda’s subsidiary company, Felda Investment Corporation (FIC), Zahid was Isa’s former aide, while Ikhwan was one of the directors in Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd. Gegasan Abadi previously owned Merdeka Palace.

“But our investigations found that money was given to the accused (Isa). Both Zaid and Zahid did not get any kickbacks from Ikhwan,” Safari said, when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz.

The court previously heard that Felda secured the purchase of Merdeka Palace in 2014 for RM160 million. The FIC had earlier rejected the proposal to buy the hotel on the grounds that it was not profitable.

Meanwhile, Zahid, who testified earlier, told the court he was released after eight days in remand in 2017 and that he was not charged with any crime.

He also said as Isa’s former officer, he would usually receive the money from Ikhwan at night and that he would only pass the money to Isa the following working day.

Afzainizam then told the court that the prosecution had called 22 witnesses and would like to close its case. Safari was the last witness for the prosecution.

He added that the prosecution would offer six witnesses to Isa, in the event the former Felda chairman was called to answer his corruption and criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges.

“We are offering Omar Salim, Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Narrashid Harun, Faizoull Ahmad, Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Nik Azman Mohd Zain and Zuraida Ariffin,” Afzainizam said.

Zuraida was Isa’s secretary during his time in Felda while the other men were FIC board members.

High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali then told the prosecution and defence to file their written submissions by Feb 28. He set March 18 to hear the submissions.

Isa faces one charge of CBT and nine counts of corruption for allegedly receiving over RM3 million at Menara Felda, Platinum Park, and Persiaran KLCC between April 29, 2014 and Dec 11, 2015.

The CBT charge provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years, whipping and a fine upon conviction, while the corruption charges allow for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount.