Halim Saad sues Dr M over UEM, Renong takeover losses

KUALA LUMPUR: Businessman Tan Sri Halim Saad has sued Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two others over losses he allegedly suffered during the government's takeover of United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) Bhd and Renong Bhd in 2001.

The 70-year-old tycoon filed the lawsuit at the High Court registry through Messrs Malik Imtiaz Sarwar on Aug 2.

He named Dr Mahathir, 98, former finance II minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, 76, and the government as the first, second and third defendants, respectively.

In the statement of claim, Halim said the government had made a compulsory acquisition by virtue of Khazanah Nasional Bhd effecting a take-over of UEM between July and October 2001, which resulted in Halim’s Renong shares being devalued.

At the material time, he claimed that Renong held 37.92% shares in UEM and that he was the single largest individual shareholder in Renong, and was in control of Renong.

Halim said he had intended to make a general offer on UEM, either through Renong or jointly with Renong, to take it private as a subsidiary of Renong where this would have enabled him control and full ownership of UEM through Renong.

"The plaintiff was, however, directed by Dr Mahathir, by Dr Mahathir directly and through Nor Mohamed, not to proceed as the government wanted, instead, to acquire all the shares in UEM through a designated entity, Khazanah or a party it was to nominate.

"In line with this, the plaintiff was also directed to exit both UEM and Renong, both as shareholder and director including in subsidiaries of the said companies.

"This required the plaintiff to cede his control over Renong and UEM to the government and to eventually dispose of the plaintiff's Renong shares at a loss," Halim said.

He further claimed that the Renong shares belonged to him and not "Umno Baru" and that Dr Mahathir and Nor Mohamed had acted on behalf of the government and were the prime movers in respect of the said compulsory acquisition and deprivation.

He said he complied with the said direction as Dr Mahathir was then the prime minister and finance minister.

Halim said the acquisition and the deprivation of his rights as the controlling shareholder of Renong, which were key aspects of the acquisition exercise by the government, were effected or caused without any compensation being paid to him and this was in contravention of Article 13 of the Federal Constitution.

He also said the failure to pay compensation was also in violation of Article 8 of the Federal Constitution whereby the government had acted without regard to the

plaintiff’s equal protection before the law and, further, discriminated against him by denying his equality before the law.

The plaintiff is seeking a court order for the government to pay the plaintiff an unspecified compensation, or alternatively, general damages to be assessed by the court, as well as exemplary and aggravated damages, interests, costs and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

The lawsuit is fixed for case management on Sept 13.

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