KUALA LUMPUR: A former Sime Darby Bhd president and group CEO is facing two charges of criminal breach of trust and two alternative cheating charges in the Sessions Court here.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubair @ Ahmad Zubir Murshid (pic), 57, is standing trial after the Federal Court dismissed a second appeal by him in March that the four charges against him be dropped.
The charges were in relation to the acquisition of native customary rights (NCR) land in Sarikei, Kapit and Julau under the Sarawak Upstream Expansion Plan.
Ahmad Zubair is charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code for failing to take or instruct legal action to rectify the award of NCR land in Lower Julau and Sarikei to a trading company, Vertical Drive.
The offence, which caused Sime Darby to incur RM85mil in losses by having to acquire Vertical Drive later, is alleged to have been committed between Nov 17 and Nov 28, 2008.
In the second charge, he is alleged to have also failed to take or instruct legal action between Nov 17, 2008 and Dec 4, 2009 to rectify the awarding of NCR land in Kapit and Julau to another trading company, Nature Ambience.
That resulted in Sime Darby incurring losses of RM16.8mil by having to later acquire Nature Ambience as well.
The two alternative charges, under Section 418 of the Penal Code, allege that Ahmad Zubair failed to inform the Sime Darby board of directors on Nov 28, 2008 and Dec 4, 2009 that the NCR land in Sarikei, Julau and Kapit had been awarded to Vertical Drive and Nature Ambience.
On the first day of the trial yesterday, permanent secretary to the Sarawak Rural Development Ministry Datuk Chaiti Bolhassan, 49, testified that a letter dated June 23, 2008, was sent by Ahmad Zubair on behalf of Sime Darby to the former chief minister of Sarawak Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.
The letter, he said, informed Taib of Sime Darby’s intention to develop 150,000ha of NCR land.
Chaiti told the court that based on the letter, Vertical Drive was the authorised representative to receive the approval letter on behalf of Sime Darby upon the state government’s awarding of the project. He also testified that his impression from the letter was that Vertical Drive was a subsidiary of Sime Darby.
The trial continues today.