By Nigel Aw
Businessman Shamsubahrin Ismail, who has been charged with cheating National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) executive chairperson Mohamed Salleh Ismail, says Salleh pressured him to bribe the police to cover up the company’s scandal.
He made this claim in a report to the police he lodged while warded at at the Klang General Hospital last Friday, which PKR revealed at a press conference in Petaling Jaya today.
The police report states: “In my appointment, I received messages and pressure from Salleh asking me to cover up the NFC case with the police.
“Salleh, through phone calls and SMSes, pressured me to pay bribes to the police to cover up the case.”
In the report, Shamsubahrin claims that he was appointed by NFC as a corporate adviser and consultant to “clean up” NFC’s internal problems.
He claims to have met with the police to facilitate their investigation, and had told Salleh he would not pay bribes.
NFC is accused of misusing a RM250 million government soft loan by spending it on luxurious assets instead of the cattle centre in Gemas, which it had been tasked to manage.
Asked if PKR has the SMS evidence, its vice-president N Surendran said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was in possession of the phone containing the messages.
“Several phones were taken from Shamsubahrin and all the phones were later returned except for one. That one held by the MACC is the one containing all this crucial matter. It is in the hands of the authority, but we have records, we have a back-up,” Surendran said.
He also questioned the MACC on its failure to act against the “real culprits”, even though it has information in hand.
‘Investigation politically motivated’
On Dec 30, last year, Shamsubahrin was charged with cheating Salleh of RM2 million in consultation fees.
After posting the RM300,000 bail on Jan 19, he was immediately re-arrested and slapped with two more cheating charges, said Surendran, a lawyer, who is representing Shamsubahrin together with Latheefa Koya.
The two charges were read to Shamsubahrin on the same day that he lodged the police report. At the time, he had been admitted to hospital with health problems.
He is now in Sungai Buloh prison and has refused to post bail for the second time.
“He is not ready to come out because he fears for his safety. Ironically and strangely, he feels safer in Sungai Buloh,” said Latheefa.
In the police report, Shamsubahrin said: “I believe that I have been made a scapegoat and lied to by Salleh to cover-up and save the reputation of Salleh and his wife (Women, Family and Community Development Minister) Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
“The accusations and investigation on me are politically motivated, where I have been victimised, and intended to cover up the NFC investigation.”
At the press conference, PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin caused a stir when she claimed that Salleh and Shamsubahrin knew each other through Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
However, she later retracted her claim, saying: “They met through TPM. TPM (stands for) Technology Park Malaysia, not timbalan perdana menteri (deputy prime minister).”
Zuraida said the information released today would be used for her and PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli’s defence in a RM100 million defamation lawsuit that Shahrizat has filed against them.
NFC will issue statement soon
Shahrizat has consistently denied involvement in the NFC scandal, even though her family members hold top posts in the company. She is currently on three weeks’ leave while investigations are in progress.
When contacted, GRA Communications chief executive Ghazalie Abdullah, who handles media liaison for NFC, said he would respond after ascertaining the content of the police report.
“We have just got wind of this, we do not know exactly what is in the police statement. I’m trying to establish it and indicate it to our client,” he said.
Meanwhile, PKR’s Subang MP R Sivarasa (right) blasted the government over a news report quoting a Public Accounts Committee insider as saying that no personal guarantees had been given for the soft loan.
“It is unusual to give huge amounts of money without some form of guarantee… What was the intention of NFC when it applied for the loan? Was there a genuine intention to implement the project or is it a sham?”
Sivarasa said using a loan other than for its intended purpose is criminal breach of trust, and ripped NFC executive director Wan Shahinur Izmir Salleh for suggesting that the matter has been blown up.
“I advise this young fellow to get a good lawyer and seek advice instead of making foolish and ridiculous statements when RM250 million in public money has been abused,” he added.
Later in the evening, NFC executive director Wan Shahinur Izran Salleh said via Twitter that the firm will issue a statement soon, and he hoped Malaysiakini readers would await their response. He alleged that PKR was again making defamatory and untruthful statements. – Mkini