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Mohamad Salleh and NFCorp awarded damages

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR vice-president Mohd Rafizi Ramli (pic) has been ordered by the High Court here to pay National Feedlot Corp Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) executive chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail and NFCorp RM200,000 in damages over a statement in relation to a loan to buy KL Eco City property.

Judicial Commissioner Azizul Azmi Adnan awarded RM150,000 to Mohamad Salleh and RM50,000 to the company.

In his ruling, Azizul said that based on the testimony at trial, there was no evidence that public funds were used as collateral or security or otherwise put at risk and even if the contention of Rafizi, who was the first defen­dant, was accepted that he only meant the funds disbursed to the second plaintiff NFCorp was used as leverage.

“It suggested that public funds had been spent in the purchase of properties in the private names of the directors of the company.

“I find the statements made by Rafizi defamatory to the company as they suggested that it had misused the proceeds of the go­vernment loan by allowing its directors to raise financing by leveraging on the deposit,” he said.

Azizul said in this case, it was not seriously in dispute that the nature of allegations against the plaintiffs was serious and was suggestive of conduct that may potentially have penal consequences.

He said no attempt was made by Rafizi to contact Mohamad Salleh to verify the infe­rences that he had drawn from contents of the bank documents, adding that on the date the documents had been printed on Feb 16, 2012, the loan offer had been withdrawn.

“In my judgment, if there was sufficient time to have prepared a press statement, then there would have been time to contact the plaintiffs for verification of the allegations or for the plaintiff’s side of story to be presented,” he said.

Meanwhile, Azizul dismissed the plaintiff’s claim against Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, the second defendant, on grounds that the video clip was a faithful recording of the actual events that had taken place and the reporting was done in a fair, disinterested and neutral way.

The court also ordered Rafizi to pay RM100,000 in cost.

NFCorp and Mohamad Salleh filed the de­­famation suit on June 3, 2013, over a statement in relation to a loan to buy KL Eco City property.

The plaintiffs named Rafizi, who is MP for Pandan, and the owner of news portal Malaysiakini, Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, as defendants.

In his statement of claim, Mohamad Salleh said that on March 7, 2012, Rafizi gave a defamatory statement at a press conference at the PKR headquarters over the purchase of KL Eco City property and the news was published in Malaysiakini that day.

He said he had suffered losses as a result of the lies, misleading information, exposure of confidential banking information and slander by the defendants.