KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer agreed to take a RM100mil loan to purchase a large block of Omega Holdings Bhd shares in 1997 after being assured by a fellow lawyer who had frequently acted for businessman Datuk Soh Chee Wen that it would be a short-term deal, the High Court heard yesterday.
Bhadarul Baharain Sulaiman, 44, said that before he was asked to borrow the sum, he had in July or August that year mentioned to Soh the shares that were available for sale.
I have known Datuk John Soh Chee Wen since 1994, said Bhadarul, who was testifying in a suit filed by RHB Equities Sdn Bhd, RHB Securities Sdn Bhd and RHB Capital Bhd against prominent businessman and banker Tan Sri Rashid Hussain and five of his former bank associates.
The plaintiffs, who are seeking to recover RM500mil and the interest accrued from the defendants, claim that the defendants had committed breach of duty and negligence when granting loans to Bhadarul and four other borrowers.
Bhadarul said he had borrowed the sum from RHB Equities in October 1997 by merely signing on all the documents furnished and prepared by lawyer Jennifer Tay Siew Kiem.
He said Tay was the person who had assured him that he would be a borrower only for about three months and that he would be acting as a nominee for a company called Coronation Mark Industry Sdn Bhd, which was the beneficial owner of the shares.
I have known Jennifer Tay since 1979. She had frequently acted for Soh and the companies he was involved in, Bhadarul said.
He was involved in Rekapacific Bhd, Kelanamas Industries Bhd, Autoways Holdings Bhd, Alor Star Securities Sdn Bhd and Promet Bhd.
He added that the other borrowers apart from Tay herself were Lynette Mohamed, Heng Fook Seng and Kon Shyun.
He said he knew Heng as a fellow member of the Bar while Kon was a former employee of Autoways Holdings Bhd where he (Bhadarul) was once a director.
As for Lynette, Bhadarul said her father was the chairman of Kelanamas.
On his application for the RM100mil loan, which was subsequently granted by RHB Equities, Bhadarul said he had only furnished a photocopy of his identity card to Tay. He did not give her any other documents to support his application.
No one from RHB Equities spoke to me about the margin financing facilities, he said.
By the second quarter of 1998, Tay left the country. Since then, I have not been in contact with her.
He said that in May 1999, he was served with a suit by RHB Equities seeking repayment of the loan.
He added that he then met with the companys representatives to explain that there was a restructuring exercise being planned to resuscitate Omega Holdings and all liabilities arising from the loans were to be absorbed by Coronation Mark Industry.
The suit against him and the other four borrowers was finally discontinued, he said.
Cross-examined by counsel Darryl Goon, Bhadarul said although all the Omega Holdings shares purchased using the RM100mil was held on behalf of Coronation Mark Industry, he still owned 1,682,000 units to date.
The case has been scheduled for mention on Aug 16, when new trial dates will be fixed.
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