Hearing for govt's lawsuit against NFC to resume on May 17

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has fixed a four-day hearing beginning May 17 to resume trial in a lawsuit filed by the government against National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) to reclaim RM253.6mil in loan payments and interests, if both parties fail to reach a settlement.

Judicial Commissioner Anand Ponnudurai set the date between May 17 and May 20 for hearing before adjourning the proceedings for the day after the court was informed of a possibility of a settlement.

Senior Federal Counsel Nurhafizza Azizan, who appeared for the government, told the press that the case was initially scheduled to resume hearing on Wednesday (Jan 26), but proceedings were adjourned following NFC’s intention to settle.

"(NFC chairman) Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail, who is the second defendant witness, would testify if the hearing resumes on May 17," she said.

The government filed the suit in June 2019, to recoup RM253.6mil in loan payments and interests in connection with the National Feedlot Centre in Gemas, Negeri Sembilan from the company.

In its statement of claim, the government as the sole plaintiff, named NFC as the first defendant, while Mohamad Salleh, who was the husband of former Wanita Umno chief and minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, and their three children, Wan Shahinur Izran, Wan Shahinur Izmir and Wan Izzana Fatimah Zabedah, were the second to fifth defendants, respectively.

Other defendants were six companies controlled by Mohamad Salleh’s family, comprising National Meat & Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd, Real Food Corporation Sdn Bhd, Meatworks Corporation Sdn Bhd, Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd, Asian Bioscience Corporation Sdn Bhd, and Technology Imageware (M) Sdn Bhd.

The government signed a loan agreement totalling RM250mil with NFC on Dec 6, 2007 to finance the costs of establishing and operating a National Feedlot Centre in Gemas as part of its policy to develop and increase beef production.

The loan was disbursed in three separate tranches and Mohamad Salleh's family had made 10 withdrawals amounting to RM180.51mil from Jan 24, 2008 to Jan 3, 2011.

Of the RM180.51mil withdrawn, it claimed that only RM8.32mil was paid directly to third parties to conduct the National Feedlot Centre project.

The balance of the withdrawn funds was transferred to other NFCorp accounts, and a total of RM118.04mil from this balance was allegedly misused.

Included in the alleged misuse of funds is a total of RM9.76mil which was allegedly used to purchase one of two units at One Menerung Residence, allegedly done by the sixth defendant, the National Meat & Livestock Corp.

It was also claimed that a total of RM300,000 was used to make payment to an individual named Shamsubahrin Ismail for undisclosed purposes, and an additional RM1.8mil was paid to the same individual.

It was also claimed that Mohamad Salleh's family had allegedly used the funds loaned from the government to settle monthly rental amounting to RM28,000 for an office lot at Solaris Mont Kiara.

Other alleged expenditures made with the loaned money included the purchase of two plots of land in Putrajaya, payment to two legal firms and the purchase of a four-storey shop house in Solaris Mont Kiara.

The trial began on Jan 13, 2021, where the plaintiff called seven witnesses to testify.

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