Court allows Mahathir to strike out UEM-Renong lawsuit by Halim Saad

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Halim Saad tells court he had no choice but to abide by Dr M’s directive.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court today allowed an application by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two others to strike out a suit filed by tycoon Tan Sri Halim Saad over losses he allegedly suffered following the acquisition of Renong Bhd and United Engineers Malaysia Berhad (UEM) shares by the government almost 23 years ago.

Judicial Commissioner Suzana Muhamad Said struck out the suit against Dr Mahathir, former finance minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and the government based on the limitation of time (statute of limitation).

“This court finds that the 2013 case is actually disposed of. Therefore, whatever the issue was, the principle of res judicata and the statute of limitation are thus applicable.

“There is a reason why there is a limitation. It is to put a stop to unnecessary action being taken especially after a period of time,” said the judge in her broad grounds.

On April 17, 2013, Halim filed a similar lawsuit against Khazanah Nasional, Nor Mohamed and the government to claim damages of more than RM1.8 billion for selling his shares in Renong.

However, on October 31, 2013, the High Court allowed a striking-out application by Khazanah Nasional, Nor Mohamed and the government on the grounds that Halim had filed the suit after a six-year time frame.

As required under the Limitation Act 1953, the suit should be filed within six years. Eventually, he also failed in his appeal at the Federal Court in 2015.

According to Suzana, the acquisition was in 2001 which has been more than 20 years.

She ordered Halim to pay costs of RM10,000.

Senior Federal Counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly appeared for Dr Mahathir, Nor Mohamed and the government, while Halim was represented by counsels Datuk Malik Imtiaz and Surendra Ananth.

Based on the statement of claim, filed together with the suit on August 2 last year, Halim, who is the former executive chairman and director of Renong, claimed that he intended to make a general offer to privatise UEM as a subsidiary of Renong with the implementation enabling the plaintiff to gain full control and ownership of UEM.

He claimed that he was instructed by Dr Mahathir and Nor Mohamed not to proceed with the general offer because the government wanted to take over all the shares in UEM through a designated entity namely Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah) or a party to be nominated by Khazanah.

Halim said he was also instructed to leave UEM and Renong as a shareholder and director, including the subsidiaries of the two companies, thus obliging him to hand over control of Renong and UEM to the government and further dispose of his Renong shares at a loss.

NST

He claimed that Khazanah had acquired all of UEM’s shares through its subsidiary, Danasaham Sdn Bhd, thereby gaining control over UEM, which at the time owned 32.6 per cent of Renong shares.

Therefore, he is claiming, among other things, compensation for the forced takeover by the government between July and October 2001 and a declaration that he is a Renong shareholder.

Meanwhile, the defendants, in their defence statement, denied having forcibly taken over the shareholding of the two companies as the takeover was approved by Halim, who received RM165 million in compensation.