Two businessmen have been remanded in relation to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission’s (MACC) probe into the alleged Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco) land scam.
The two men, both with the title of ‘Datuk’, will be held for three days after the court allowed MACC’s remand application today.
The duo, aged 58 and 54 respectively, are brothers.
The siblings arrived at the Putrajaya courts complex at 9.25am.
They were arrested at between 11.45am and 12.15pm on Monday by MACC officers at two separate locations in the Klang Valley.
“The first man is the chief executive officer of a company while the second sibling is the chief executive officer of a second company linked to the scam and he is also an adviser to the first company,” the New Straits Times quoted a source as saying.
In 1977, 470 settlers had paid RM7,600 each as a deposit to Gatco for a plot of land to build their houses and cultivate sugarcane – a scheme the NUPW had initiated purportedly for the settlers.
The NUPW had leased the land in Jempol from the Negri Sembilan Development Corporation (NSDC) for 99 years before forming Gatco to realise the landmark development scheme for its members.
However, the scheme failed and Gatco was forced to take loans from two finance companies.
Gatco went bankrupt when a third party served a winding-up petition on the company in 1996.
The land was taken over by national asset management company Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd and offered for public auction in 2004. In 2007, it was bought by the current owner, Thamarai Holdings Sdn Bhd, an oil palm and rubber plantation company and a subsidiary of Lotus Group.
The settlers’ legal battle began in 2013 when they sued the two liquidators, K Jayapalasingam and Yong Yoon Shing, as well as Thamarai over the land.
The settlers’ lawsuit was struck out by the High Court. The Court of Appeal, in reversing the decision in 2014, ordered the lawsuit to be reinstated.
In October 2016, the High Court ruled in favour of the settlers on eight questions of law during the retrial while another two questions of law were in favour of the liquidators and the company.
In November last year, the settlers filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision on the two questions against their favour.
The situation turned ugly when Thamarai attempted to take full possession of the land while the settlers retaliated to the move.
On Jul 18, 28 settlers were detained by police for attempting to stop Thamarai from cutting down rubber trees in their village. They were released two days later.
On Jul 24, another 30 settlers were arrested by the police for forming a human blockade to prevent lorries from transporting logs from the village. They were released the same day.
Last month, prior to launching a probe after the settlers lodged reports alleging corruption in the sale of the land to Thamarai, the MACC sent a high-level entourage, led by chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad, to visit the affected settlers at Kampung Gatco, now renamed as Kampung Serampang Indah.
On Aug 29, the commission conducted raids at several locations simultaneously: the offices of Thamarai Holdings and the NUPW in Petaling Jaya, a lawyer’s office in Plaza Pengkalan, Jalan Tiong and the audit firm Singam & Yong in Kuala Lumpur, and the offices of the Negri Sembilan State Secretariat and the NSDC in Seremban.
Relevant documents were seized during the operation.
On Sept 18, the MACC made its first arrest of a 69-year-old liquidator, who was said to be the middleman in the land sale, when he went to give his statement at the agency’s office in Putrajaya.