Saturday 24 March 2012

Tajudin's RM589mil Danaharta debt written off

EXCLUSIVE Tajudin Ramli need not pay the RM589 million he owes Pengurusuan Danaharta Nasional Bhd as part of the out-of-court settlement he reached with government-linked companies (GLCs) last month.

NONEThis was confirmed to Malaysiakini by people in the know after Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua (left) claimed on Feb 15 that included in the secret settlement recorded by the Court of Appeal between Tajudin and several GLCs, the former Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairperson need not pay his debt.

"From my sources, I can confirm that the debt has been completely written off as part of the settlement. I knew about this from inside sources. The settlement caused an immediate loss of RM589 million," Pua had told Malaysiakini last month.

The settlement followed Tajudin's agreement to withdraw his appeal against a Dec 7, 2009, Kuala Lumpur High Court decision, and against several GLCs and litigants that included Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Naluri Corporation, Celcom (M) Bhd, Atlan Holding Bhd and CIMB Group.

'Former big players making a comeback'

Three years ago, the High Court ordered Tajudin to pay the amount to Danaharta, which was the sum he owed for his controversial purchase of MAS shares in 1994, paving the way for the tycoon to control the national carrier.

At the same time, the court had also struck out Tajudin's RM13 billion counter-claim against the GLCs.

tajudin ramli 1Danaharta's residual assets, now managed by Prokhas Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned company of the Finance Ministry, has not shed any light on the terms of the out-of-court settlement that was reached last month.

Danaharta was set up to avert the collapse of the banking system in the wake of the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis which saw many companies unable to repay their loans.

Sources confirmed with Malaysiakini that Pua was correct in his assertion that Tajudin's RM589 million debt had been written off.
"Pua's statement has not been rebutted. I have come to understand that it has been confirmed that the debt has been written off...," said one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"There is also a strong belief that the government is paying Tajudin further (as part of the settlement)," added the individual.

The source also said some of the former corporate players in the economic go-go years of the 1990s were "coming back into the picture".

'Tajudin has money to pay debt'

Those familiar with the case said Tajudin has the means to pay the sum he was ordered to by the court as he owned a horse ranch on a huge parcel of land in Kuang, Selangor - called Al Raudhah (Garden of Paradise) - as well as a four-star hotel in Langkawi.

"The authorities could have seized his properties to recover the losses. Questions have to be raised as to why this was not done and why Tajudin is being given such immunity," said another source.

Those familiar with the case also claimed that despite the out-of-court settlement, the government may have incurred expenses that could run into millions of ringgit, including payment for legal services in the court case that has dragged on for six years.

The GLCs had filed their suits against Tajudin for failing to pay RM1.79 billion for his 1994 purchase of a 32 percent stake in MAS.

The government bought back Tajudin's shares in 2000-01 at RM8 a share, which was said to be more than double the market price at that time - a decision that received much public outrage.

After a long court case, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Anantham Kasinater found Tajudin to have originally owed Danaharta a total of RM1.4 billion, and that the former Celcom and Technology Research Industries Bhd chairperson had failed to settle the reduced debt in four instalments spread over three years.

"Danaharta had pursued the case, but Tajudin failed to settle his dues. The two parties subsequently reached a settlement on Oct 8, 2001 that included a RM468.18 million 'hair cut'," Anantham had said in his 2009 judgment.

No response from Tajudin's lawyer

Last month's out-of-court settlement was also bogged by controversy after the revelation of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz's letter to the GLCs dated Aug 8, 2011, asking that they settle their legal battle with Tajudin.

NONENazri (left) later said that the letter was merely "an advice".

However, Tajudin had, before last month's settlement was reached, submitted an affidavit and quoted Nazri's letter as a directive to settle the case out of court.

It was also reported that MPs were not happy when four questions on the settlement were rejected by Parliament on grounds of sub judice as there were related on-going cases in court.

Pakatan Rakyat MPs have also demanded that Parliament form a parliamentary select committee to probe the settlement.

Malaysiakini has tried to contact the lawyer representing Tajudin for confirmation and further explanation that his client was not required to pay anything to Danaharta, but there has been no response.

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