Lawyer Accuses Former Felda Investment Boss of Blaming Isa to Save Own Neck

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There was drama at the trial of former Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad at the High Court today.

This was after a witness who was allegedly implicated in Isa’s purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites was engaged in a verbal exchange with Isa’s lawyer Datuk Salehuddin Saidin.

Isa’s lawyer was having a field day grilling the witness, former Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) chief executive officer (CEO) Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil.

Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali/NST

The atmosphere in the court began warming up when Salehuddin contended that Zaid was the one who had interest in the Kuching hotel, but he instead put the blame on Isa.

To this accusation, Zaid raised his voice and replied: “I do not agree.”

Salehuddin: When you were pressured by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and you were shown these (documents and minutes related to Merdeka Palace hotel purchase), there was no way out for you to save your neck, so you implicated Isa.

Zaid: I do not agree. (raising his voice)

Salehuddin: Do not shout.

Zaid: I am just making myself clear because you have asked me this many times.

The other contentions made by the counsel only made the situation more tense, and the witness was accused of intentionally pushing the blame on other individuals, including the FICSB board of directors and the company’s external secretary.

Earlier, Zaid told the court that he disagreed with the proposal of the Merdeka Palace Hotel purchase which was bought at RM160 million.

He nevertheless did not voice his disagreement in the 10th FICSB board meeting which took place on April 29, 2014.

“In the meeting, the board took note of the vote of the majority who agreed to the hotel purchase, but this was not recorded in the minutes by the FICSB secretary,” he said.

He also disagreed with the counsel’s suggestion that he had blamed other individuals to cover up his mistake for not voicing out his disagreement on the purchase at the meeting.

Trial continues before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on Monday.

On Dec 14 last year, Isa pleaded not guilty to one count of CBT by approving the purchase of the Merdeka Palace & Suites Hotel without approval from the Felda board of directors on April 29, 2014.

Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali/NST

The former Umno vice-president also faces nine counts of receiving graft totalling more than RM3 million from Gegasan Abadi Sdn Bhd’s director Ikhwan Zaidel between July 2014 and December 2015. – NST

Earlier reports:

Oct 16, Isa Samad Took Lack of Objection from Felda Board as Unanimous Consent for Hotel Buy

Oct 9, Isa Samad Ordered Immediate Payment of RM100M to FICSB for Hotel Purchase

Oct 8, Isa Samad Trial: Kuching Hotel Later Valued at Half of Purchase Price

Oct 7, Prosecution to Prove Isa Samad Got More Than RM3M in Bribes