Wednesday 21 March 2012

PAC to summon government reps on NFCorp board

March 21, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will summon the three government representatives on the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) board after its directors, embroiled in allegations of abusing a RM250 million federal loan, refused to face the panel yesterday.

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that the parliamentary panel has decided to “call everybody involved” despite NFCorp lawyers insisting the PAC hearings were subjudice to criminal charges faced by the company’s executive chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail.

Mohamad Salleh, who is also Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s husband, was charged on March 12 with criminal breach of trust and breaching the Companies Act in relation to abusing public funds worth RM49 million.

“We are calling the representatives from the agriculture and finance ministries as well as the Negri Sembilan government. They are from the government so they have no reason not to turn up,” a PAC member told The Malaysian Insider.

Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat and her family have been dogged by allegations of misusing public funds to finance over RM60 million in land, property and expenses unrelated to the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) cattle-farming project.

The project was awarded to Shahrizat’s family in 2006 when she was part of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Cabinet.

NFCorp, which is run by Mohamad Salleh and his three children, sent two lawyers and the company’s administrative manager to the PAC hearing today on how the RM250 million federal loan meant for a cattle-farming scheme was spent.

“But they said they were not ready to answer questions,” PAC deputy chief Dr Tan Seng Giaw (picture) said.

NFCorp also said in a statement yesterday its directors were advised by their lawyers against attending this morning’s PAC hearing as the matter under probe was still pending in court.

But the source told The Malaysian Insider the PAC wanted to quiz the directors on other claims which Mohamad Salleh is not facing criminal charges.

“But they said the whole thing is complex and intertwined. The lawyers also had no answer when we asked why the other directors who have not been charged could not appear,” he said.

Kepong MP Dr Tan also said the directors were still “invited” to face the committee but if they failed to respond, the PAC would use its powers to summon them.

Sections 16 and 17 of the Houses of Parliament Act give it powers to order witnesses or evidence to be presented before Parliament or any of its committees.

“We threw the law at the lawyers who were ‘dumbfounded’ by the powers of Parliament,” another PAC member told The Malaysian Insider.

Mohamad Salleh was charged on March 12 with criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act after he allegedly used the cattle-rearing firm’s federal loan for personal expenses.

This came a day after Shahrizat announced she would step down as women, family and community development minister when her senatorship ends on April 8.

NFCorp hit the national headlines after it made it into the Auditor-General’s Report last year for missing production targets.

The PAC said on Monday the NFCorp has yet to repay the RM250 million federal loan despite the repayment date being due two months ago.

But the firm responded the same day saying it had written to the government on October 27, 2009 to ask for a deferment of loan repayments due to construction delays related to the NFC in Gemas, Negri Sembilan.

No comments:

Post a Comment