PKFZ: The scandal with no culprits?

File picture showing the entrance to Port Klang Free Zone. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
File picture showing the entrance to Port Klang Free Zone. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Three people charged with cheating over the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) were today acquitted by the Shah Alam Sessions Court, possibly turning the RM12 billion scandal into one with no culprits.

According to national news agency Bernama, the three were given full discharges by the Sessions Court.

The only people who had still been on trial over the 2008 scandal are former Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) project manager Law Jenn Dong, KDSB chief operating officer Stephen Abok and architect Bernard Tan.

All others previously charged in the scandal including former ministers Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy as well as former Port Klang Authority chairman OC Phang have also been acquitted.

Judge Asmadi Hussin ruled that the prosecution failed to show prima facie, and ordered all three to be freed and acquitted.

All three were charged in 2010 with 24 counts of defrauding OSK Trustees Bhd in paying RM116.85 million to KDSB for two projects at the PKFZ.

They would have been liable for up to 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine, and caning for each charge under Section 420 of the Penal Code.

Lawyers Datuk Tan Hock Chuan, Hisham Teh Poh Teik and Datuk V. Sithambaram represented Law, Tan and Abok, respectively.

Dr Ling had pitched the idea to create a free trade zone at the Port Klang area and turn it into a regional integrated cargo distribution and industrial park in 1997, when he was then the transport minister.

It was originally to have cost RM1.1 billion, but this later grew to RM4.6 billion in 2007.

Following allegations of corruption in the project, then-transport minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat commissioned an audit by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2008.

The audit concluded that the total cost of the project could balloon to RM12.5 billion after factoring in interest payments.

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