Isa Samad told to enter defence for all but one charge on Sarawak hotel deal

Former Felda chairman Isa Samad.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today ordered former Felda chairman Isa Samad to enter his defence for all but one of the 10 charges against him in relation to the company’s purchase of a hotel in Kuching six years ago.

He was told to enter his defence for nine corruption charges in which he is accused of receiving over RM3 million in kickbacks for approving the RM160 million purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel in 2014.

Trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said the prosecution had proven a prima facie case for these charges under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) Act.

However, he said the prosecution failed to establish the elements of the breach of trust charge against Isa under Section 409 of the Penal Code.

“I am satisfied that there is sufficient credible evidence to establish the elements of the offence of receiving gratification including, among others, for matters concerning the series of cash withdrawals by Azizi Abd Wahab, who was a shareholder and director of JV Evolution Sdn Bhd

“Azizi then caused the delivery of the cash to two individuals on the nine occasions, who in turn handed over the cash to Muhammad Zarip Md Arip, the accused’s former special officer,” he said.

JV Evolution was the company appointed as agent for the hotel purchase by Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd, the owner of Merdeka Palace and Suites Hotel at the time.

On Isa’s acquittal of the CBT charge, though, Nazlan said he could not be said to have committed the offence even if he was entrusted with the funds as the purchase was approved by the seven directors of Felda Investment Corporation.

He also said there was no evidence that Isa had influenced or asked other members of the board to approve the hotel purchase.

The hearing for the defence trial will resume from Aug 17 to 19, with Isa saying he intends to give a sworn testimony from the witness stand.

A total of 22 witnesses testified during the prosecution trial from Oct 7, 2019 to Jan 14.

If found guilty of corruption, Isa could face jail of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the amount in bribes.

Isa was represented by lawyer Salehuddin Saidin while deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz appeared for the prosecution.

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