Datuk and wife charged with failing to return haj package fees

SEREMBAN: The directors of a travel and tour company offering haj pilgrimage packages claimed trial at a Magistrate's Court here to 51 counts of failing to comply with awards made by the Consumer Claims Tribunal to return RM473,730 to 17 people.

Datuk Zulkarnain Endut and Datin Mazuin Mustafa, both 43, pleaded not guilty after the charges were read to them before Magistrate Noor Hafizah Ishak on Tuesday (Feb 27).

The married couple, directors of Emraz Travel and Tours, allegedly committed the offences between May 29 and Sept 13 last year.

They were charged under Section 117(1) of the Consumer Protection Act 1999, which carries a fine of up to RM10,000 or a maximum two years' jail or both for each charge, upon conviction.

They were jointly slapped with 17 charges as representatives of the company.

As directors, the husband and wife were separately charged with the same 17 offences.

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Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry deputy public prosecutor Shafiq Mahadi then asked the court to set bail at RM2,000 for each charge or RM34,000 for each of the accused for the individual charges.

"The accused are also facing similar charges in other states including Sabah and Sarawak," he said, adding that they should also be made to report at the Negri Sembilan Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry office here once a month.

He revealed that the couple have also been charged with 63 similar offences in Putrajaya and 52 in Kota Baru.

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Datuk Hanif Hassan, who represented the couple, then asked the court to use its discretion to impose a bond instead of bail as provided for under Section 387(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

"They have forked out money to post bail at the Putrajaya and Kota Baru courts. They are also not a flight risk as they are having other civil cases and at the tribunal," he added.

Hanif said his clients have been working hard to repay some of the people and were unable to raise the bail amount.

"If bail is to be imposed, I ask that the court be guided by the amount imposed by the Putrajaya and Kota Baru courts," he said.

Hanif said the Putrajaya Magistrate's Court set total bail at RM6,300 for 63 charges while in Kota Baru, it was RM10,200 for 51 charges.

DPP Suhana Mohd, who assisted Shafiq, then said the court was not tied to the amount of bail set by other courts.

"The RM2,000 we are asking for each charge is not high.

"This is because both accused have pending charges," she said.

Suhana said the accused had also failed to show up when their cases first came up for mention at the Putrajaya, Kota Baru and Seremban Magistrate's Courts.

Hanif then explained that his clients were unable to do so as the notice given to them to attend court was too short.

Magistrate Noor Hafizah then set bail at RM500 for each charge and set April 25 for next mention.

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