Former MBI Kedah CEO charged with graft in REE mining joint venture

Muhamad Sobri (centre) being brought to court, where he claimed trial to two counts of corruption. – BERNAMApic

ALOR SETAR: A former Kedah Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI Kedah) chief executive officer pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here Monday (Nov 20) to charges of soliciting and accepting gratification in connection with a rare earth element (REE) mining joint venture in the state.

Muhamad Sobri Osman, 63, entered the plea after the charges were read out to him before Sessions judge Rohatul Akmal Abdullah.

On the first count, he was charged with soliciting gratification of RM4mil from one John Abad Pe of Kumpulan Perlombongan REE Sdn Bhd as an incentive for him to help the company carry out joint-venture REE mining through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the company and MBI Kedah.

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The offence was allegedly committed at a hotel in Hatyai, Thailand, on May 20.

For this charge, the prosecution requested to apply the provision under Section 66 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (MACC) 2009 which provides that any citizen and permanent resident of Malaysia who commits an offence abroad can be prosecuted in the country.

Muhamad Sobri was also charged with accepting a gratification of RM1mil in cash from John Abad Pe through one Liyana Mamat @ Khalid as an inducement to help Kumpulan Perlombongan REE Sdn Bhd carry out joint-venture REE mining in Kedah through an MoU between the company and MBI Kedah.

The offence was allegedly committed in the parking lot of Wisma Darul Aman, Jalan Tunku Bendahara, here on May 29.

ALSO READ: MBI was aware of rare earth element theft in Sik, says Saifuddin

Both charges are framed under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009 which provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the gratification involved in the offence – where such gratification is capable of being valued or is of a pecuniary nature – or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction

The court allowed Muhamad Sobri bail of RM100,000 with one surety for both charges and also ordered him to surrender his passport, to report to the nearest MACC office on the first week of every month, and to not intimidate witnesses in the case.

The court also set Jan 22 for mention for the submission of documents.

The prosecution was conducted by MACC deputy public prosecutors Farah Yasmin Salleh, Natrah Fareha Rahmat and Muhammad Asnaf Mohamed Tahir, while the accused was represented by lawyers Ibrahim Ismail and Mohammed Zamri Ibrahim. – Bernama

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