KUALA LUMPUR: Former Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd (UMMB) staff involved in the voluntary separation scheme (VSS) exercise four years ago are entitled to the proceeds of sales of the properties owned by UMMB and its subsidiaries.
High Court judge Nadzarin Wok Nordin held that the employees involved in the VSS, UMMB’s subsidiaries and its related company were beneficiaries of the trust properties and not the creditors.
“In relation to the VSS exercise, UMMB, its subsidiaries and its related company can be regarded as a single economic entity.
“The court is of the view that the VSS employees who are involved in the VSS exercise are beneficiaries of the trust properties, they stand outside its liquidation process and are entitled to the benefit of the trust properties,” Nadzarin said.
He also declared the 29 properties owned by UMMB, including its subsidiaries, namely Utusan Publications & Distributor Sdn Bhd, U Print Sdn Bhd (in liquidation), Utusan Land Sdn Bhd and Juasa Holdings Sdn Bhd, and its related company, Mediamoney Sdn Bhd, could be recognised as trust properties.
In his judgment, Nadzarin said the properties, including several buildings situated in Jalan 5, Jalan Utusan Off Jalan Chan Sow Lin, as well as Jalan 5, Section 92 CSL here and Jalan P/10 Kawasan Perusahaan S/S 10 in Bangi, where the leasehold tenure had expired, in regard to the settlement for the VSS scheme by the plaintiff (UMMB), could be recognised or declared as trust properties.
He said the net proceeds, after deducting the necessary and compulsory payments, such as real property gains tax, quit rent, assessment, liquidators fees, legal fees and miscellaneous payments on the sale, less redemption sum, ought to be paid to the stakeholders of the VSS employees.
Messrs Lavinia, Dell Akhbar Tee & Partners and Messrs Azmi & Associates are named as the stakeholders of the VSS employees.
Nadzarin made the ruling in the originating summons filed by UHY Advisory as the liquidator representing UMMB as plaintiff against Rosmanizam Abdullah and 159 others named as defendants (VSS employees).
According to the judgment, only eight payments were made by the plaintiff to the VSS employees prior to the Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) on Oct 7, 2019 and there was still an outstanding sum of RM59,403,367.97 pursuant to the VSS, which subsequently led to the setting up of a committee to resolve the outstanding payment.
Nadzarin said the court had examined the VSS terms and conditions found in the exhibits, which stated there were to be a total of 12 payments over a period of 12 months to the VSS employees and they ought to be made after all statutory deductions, debts owing and other official processes were completed.
Lawyer Abu Daud Abd Rahim represented the defendants.