Maintaining this under cross-examination in the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, ex-minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she disagrees with the claim made in Parliament earlier this year by de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.
In pursuing a RM100 million defamation suit against two PKR leaders, Shahrizat pointed out that Nazri is not the agriculture and agro-based industries minister.
"No, I do not agree with (Nazri's) statement. We have to see whether there were any legal instruments," she said, replying lawyer Ranjit Singh.
Legal instruments would include any written agreement between the project manager National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) and the government over the use of the loan.
Ranjit is representing PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli (photo). The other respondent is PKR women’s wing head Zuraida Kamaruddin.
More than RM80 million of the soft loan had reportedly been transferred to National Meatworks and Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd, which is owned by members of Shahrizat’s family.
This money was allegedly used to purchase a unit in the high-end OneMenerung condominium in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
Ranjit: One of the issues faced is that NFC transferred over RM80 million to NMLC?
Ranjit: Was your husband was charged related to this issue?
Shahrizat agreed that NFC directors included her husband, and her three children while NMLC is owned by her husband and children.
These issues were raised in parliament resulting in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry to having to respond to related questions from BN, opposition and independent MPs.
The Umno Wanita chief also agreed to suggestions made by Ranjit that when the PM comments on the NFC matter, it had created a new dimension on the issue being of huge public interests.
Not my business
The former minister was then shown official company searches done on the NMLC and NFC, to which she agreed that the NMLC was wholly owned by her family where her husband and three children are the directors.
“However, I did not make it my business to know what it is. I knew it was created but I did not make it my business to know,” she said.
“The real business was never discussed. There was a restaurant. I know. But what is the business I do not know,” said the former minister.
Shahrizat, who had previously a chairperson of two public listed companies, agreed with the counsel that the NFC does not have shares in NMLC and that the company that runs the restaurant business is Real Food Sdn Bhd where all the directors are her family members.
Ranjit: NMLC does not have a single share in NFC and in your experience, (if) NFC does not have (or own) shares in NMLC, it cannot be considered as part of NFC.
Shahrizat: I agree if there are no other legal instruments, or shareholding on record then NMLC is not in the NFC group.
Ranjit: Are you aware of any other legal instruments or trust deeds?
Shahrizat: I am not aware of any.
Ranjit: In the NFC there are seven directors, which includes your husband, your two sons and daughter.
Ranjit: The other are government appointees and are you aware that among them are the board members?
Shahrizat: That I am aware.
Ranjit: Does the government has a golden share in the NFC?
Shahrizat: Yes correct, and the finance ministry has no share in NMLC.
The Umno Wanita chief however, disagreed that should the National Feedlot Centre in Gemas failed, it could jeopardise the loan repayment.
Ranjit had described NFC as the special purpose vehicle for the centre to carry out the project.
“As far as I know the project is a farm where there are branches to these feed lots and if this were to fail, others may not. I don't think so,” said Shahrizat.
Blames Rafizi for Dr M and Bung comments
The former minister agreed that there are issues when her family was awarded with the project and among them they received a soft loan of RM250 million with two percent interest, lower than the commercial rate, none of the directors are given personal guarantee for the loan
“Yes, it is an issue given as to what had been (maliciously said) by the opposition,” she said, alluding to Rafizi and Zuraida.
Shahrizat admitted there were calls from within BN and also the opposition after the NFC fiasco was discovered.
Among those who said that Shahrizat should resign were Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Raden and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Despite the repeated calls made by them, Shahrizat said she decided not to sue the two.
“I blame it on the defendants for coming up with the slander and defamation. I did not feel defamed by Bung Mokhtar or Mahathir as they were acting on the consequence of the defendants.
“They were merely making comments as being a responsible party member,” Shahrizat said, adding that she did not feel defamed by Mahathir's statement.