KUALA LUMPUR: Tycoon Tan Sri Eric Chia Eng Hock was wheeled out of the Kuala Lumpur court complex a free man after he was acquitted by the Sessions Court here of committing criminal breach of trust 13 years ago involving RM76.4mil.
Judge Akhtar Tahir also acquitted Chia of an alternative charge of dishonestly disposing of Perwaja’s funds by entering into an agreement with NKK Corporation, Japan, and authorising the RM76.4mil to be paid into the account of Frilsham Enterprise Inc with the American Express Bank Ltd, Hong Kong.
He had been accused of doing so without the approval of the board of directors of Perwaja Rolling Mill and Development Sdn Bhd.
The judge said the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the former managing director of Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd.
In his 30-page oral judgment, he went on to fault the prosecution in every aspect of the case, from the way the main charge and alternative charge were proffered right to the tendering of documents, and its failure to call crucial witnesses.
Akhtar said the most glaring setback was the prosecution’s failure to call two material witnesses, who would have been able to confirm whether payment was needed for the technical assistance agreements (TAA) signed between Perwaja Rolling Mill Development and NKK Corporation.
He said former Perwaja company secretary R.R. Durai Rajasingam, who was involved in all Perwaja’s contracts, would have known the actual contents of the TAA.
“Yet the prosecution never called him. The question is why? I see nothing to say that he would be a hostile witness or give evidence against them.”
The judge also questioned the prosecution’s reluctance to call the five Japanese witnesses, including NKK Corporation, Japan, director N. Otani, who was present at the signing of the TAA in Japan in 1993.
“I wonder whether it was the Japanese witnesses who were reluctant or the prosecution was the one reluctant to bring them here,” he said.
Akhtar also said the prosecution’s contention that the TAA was free fell flat in its face when tendering its documents at the trial as they clearly stated that the agreements would be effective upon receiving first payment.
Another document by NKK Corporation not only requested for the payment to be in a lump sum but also stated the amount.
He said the prosecution failed to lead any evidence to show fabrication of that document, which it contended.
DPP Nordin Hassan said he would discuss with the Attorney-General on whether to appeal against the decision.