KUALA LUMPUR: Felda board of directors authorised a loan of RM100mil in 2015 to its investment arm to pay for the purchase of an RM160mil hotel in Kuching, despite the absence of paperwork to seek approval of the board for the purchase, the High Court heard on Wednesday (Oct 9).
Former Felda director-general Datuk Hanapi Suhada confirmed that no paperwork seeking approval for the purchase was ever tabled by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FIC) at any Felda board of directors meeting.
The fifth witness at the trial of former Felda chairman and FIC director Tan Sri Isa Samad (pic) for criminal breach of trust (CBT) and graft, however, agreed with defence counsel Datuk Salehuddin Saidin's suggestion that there was "implicit approval" for the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel and Suites in 2014.
During cross-examination by Salehuddin, Hanapi, 62, agreed that there was no instance of any member of the board of directors at Felda board meetings objecting to the purchase.
Salehuddin: Do you agree with me that if no objection was raised, it means that the approval is implied?
Salehuddin: The purchase of the hotel has never been hidden by FIC and the board could have questioned it from as early as 2014 (if the purchase has not been approved)?
Hanapi also confirmed that no objections were raised on the purchase by members of the Felda's board of directors in two board meetings, on June 23 and Aug 4, 2015, meant to discuss the RM100mil loan to FIC.
Salehuddin: When you approved the payment, is it implied that it has been approved and now you just need to ratify the loan?
Hanapi: I agree.
Salehuddin: And if no board member questioned this, it is implied that the approval is there even though nothing formal has been tabled (on seeking approval)?
Later, under re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz, Hanapi however agreed that he was not aware that there was no approval for the hotel's purchase.
Afzainizam: When you said that you agree that the purchase had approval and that was why you authorised the payment, what does it mean?
Hanapi: I did not know that approval was not obtained for the purchase when I approved the payment.
On Dec 14, 2018, Isa, 70, claimed trial to one count of criminal breach of trust by approving the purchase of the hotel without the approval of the Felda board of directors on April 29, 2014.
The offence under Section 409 of the Penal Code carries a jail term of between two and 20 years, whipping and a possible fine upon conviction.
Isa was also charged with nine counts of dishonestly receiving gratification for himself in cash totalling RM3,090,000 from Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd director Ikhwan Zaidel for helping to approve the hotel's purchase by FIC for RM160mil.
The charges were made under Section 16a(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law, which provides a jail term of not exceeding 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
The trial continues before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali in the afternoon.