SEBERANG PERAI, Feb 15 — The Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda) has filed suits alleging fraud, abuse of power and gross negligence against its former board of directors, including former chairman Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, over RM20 million worth of land deals.
Current Perda chairman Haniff Khatri Abdulla said it filed a writ of summons on February 13 over a land sale in Tok Keramat, Nibong Tebal that took place in June 2015 involving 9.36 acres of land.
“The estimated losses for the Tok Keramat land involved about RM17.7 million,” he said during a press conference at Perda today.
He said Perda filed another suit on February 14 against the former board of directors and Shabudin over another land sale at Sungai Baong in Nibong Tebal in May 2015.
The 5.8-acre land was sold at an estimated loss of RM1.9 million.
Haniff said the result of internal investigations found that both cases involved the sale of Perda land to a third party at a price that was far below the market value.
“These are losses that are unjustified, so we had to take action to reacquire the land or to obtain compensation from the relevant parties,” he said.
Perda also named the private companies that bought the land as defendants in the suits.
When asked whether Shabudin joining Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) would affect the civil suits, Haniff said Perda was not a political entity and therefore not influenced by political changes.
“We will not stop taking action regardless of the person’s political background,” he said.
He said Perda has to get back the land that was sold at below market value.
“In the suits, we are seeking for the land sale agreement to be declared null and void and for the land to be reverted back to Perda but if we fail to get the land back, we are seeking appropriate compensation, damages and costs,” he said.
Haniff said Perda is currently investigating a total 15 files which included these two land sales.
“In another file, one of it was a land purchase in Simpang Tiga Tai Thong, Tasek Gelugor in which the solicitors had failed to register the land title of a land purchased in April 2015 until today,” he said.
He said the land was purchased for RM36 million and was to be managed by Perda Ventures Incorporated Sdn Bhd (PVI) but the title was not registered till today.
“We have ended the service of the solicitors handling the land purchase,” he said.
The fourth file involved a land in Pantai Teluk Bayu, Sungai Batu in Teluk Kumbar, in which development deals were signed in 2007 and 2012 but the developments did not materialise till today, he said.
“Since these development plans failed to take off, we took action to terminate both agreements,” he said.
He said Perda will look at suitable projects to be developed on the land such as aquatourism.
As for the remaining 11 files, Haniff said it is still conducting thorough investigations into the cases.
“We will still need time to complete investigations as they involve more than five to six years of documentation,” he said.
In the meantime, Perda has suspended the board of directors of its subsidiary, PVI, which was involved in some of the 15 cases it is investigating.
Haniff said PVI, as a subsidiary of Perda, managed the development projects by Perda so it is somehow linked to these cases.
“We have appointed an interim board of directors to manage PVI as operations will continue and all ongoing projects under PVI and Perda will continue,” he said.
He stressed that all employees under PVI are not affected as they will continue to be paid as staff and it is business as usual for now.