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Saturday November 19, 2011

Kalimullah denies Khairy link

KUALA LUMPUR: ECM Libra Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan denied that the board of directors over-valued the company’s earnings projection by 10 times or RM330mil because of his relationship with Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

“It is absolutely not true. Khairy was not involved at that stage.

“It is the industry norm. Whether Khairy Jamaluddin is there (in the company) is not relevant,” said Kalimullah, 53, at the hearing of his RM50mil defamation suit against lawyer Matthias Chang and the latter’s counter-claim against him.

When queried by Chang’s lead counsel Datuk R.K. Nathan that the company’s board decided to inflate the earnings due to Khairy’s relationship with then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Kalimullah said it was untrue and scurrilous.

Asked whether having a relationship with a connected person could enhance the value of the company, he said the question was misconceived and that it was a normal business practice.

Asked if he agreed that it was actually a corrupt practice because he was stealing a march on an ordinary person who had no connections, Kalimullah said: “Then, every investment bank in town is corrupt.”

Kalimullah filed the lawsuit alleging that Chang had made damaging and baseless statements against him on June 13, 2006, at a press conference, a report of which was published in the Singapore Straits Times through its Malaysian correspondent Leslie Lau.

Chang, previously a political secretary to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his counter-claim filed on July 14, 2006, among others, is seeking RM150mil in damages and an apology.

Questioned further, Kalimullah said Khairy was a relatively junior staff when he started work in the company.

“He joined as a director,” he said.

To a question about multiplying RM33mil by 10 times to RM330mil to reach an ultimate value of RM500mil which was required by Bank Negara before it can issue a licence for investment banking, Kalimullah said nobody knew about it during the period.

Asked what was the basis for the board to multiply the value, he replied: “The directors felt that if you want to buy our company it is at 10 times value.”

To Nathan’s suggestion that the whole exercise of having an independent valuer was merely to deceive the public into believing that ECM Group of Companies with a capital of RM28mil and a paper certificate for RM330mil could compare with giant banking institutions, Kalimullah said ECM Libra had a good track record of making a profit.

The trial before Justice Asmabi Mohamad will continue on Jan 10.

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