Witness: Najib told Isa Samad to review hotel acquisition

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is seen with former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad (left) at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, October 8, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is seen with former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad (left) at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, October 8, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — The High Court heard today that former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad to review the proposed acquisition of the Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak.

Former Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) chief executive officer (CEO) Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil, 48, said Mohd Isa told all FICSB board members during the 10th BOD meeting on April 29, 2014, that the former prime minister wanted FICSB to review the acquisition of MPHS.

“The BOD took note of what was informed by Tan Sri Isa and there was no query or objection among the board members at that time,” he said.

The 15th prosecution witness said this when reading his statement on the sixth day of Mohd Isa’s trial for criminal breach of trust and corruption involving more than RM3 million in the purchase of the MPHS before Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

To an additional question from deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz on Najib’s directive, Mohd Zaid said it was a directive for a review.

Afzainizam:  All board members need to adhere to the directive?

Mohd Zaid: The proposal takes into consideration the decision of the FICSB board members on whether it is profitable or otherwise, regardless of external views. 

He said, in this regard, when the chairman informed that the prime minister (Najib) ordered for a review, the DOB was in the opinion that FICSB should review the earlier decision to reject the acquisition of the hotel.

Narrating the directive from Najib, Mohd Zaid said he received the instruction through a telephone call from Mohd Isa to review the proposed acquisition two weeks after a letter from FICSB was sent to Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd (GAPSB), that is on Feb 28, 2014.

“The next day, I met with Tan Sri Isa to get further clarification about my telephone conversation with him. Tan Sri Isa informed me to proceed with MPSH acquisition in order to assist political activities in Sarawak,” he added.

The witness said the BOD at its 8th meeting on Feb 26, 2014, had agreed not to continue with the hotel acquisition as the project was neither viable nor profitable.

Mohd Zaid said on April 18, 2014, he received a letter dated March 28, 2014, from GPSB on the offer for the resale of the hotel.

“The letter was addressed to FICSB chairman Tan Sri Isa. I met with Tan Sri Isa to inform him about the offer from GAPSB and he said that the matter should be tabled at the upcoming board meeting,” he said.

However, on April 29, 2014, Mohd Isa informed all board members that Najib had asked FICSB to review the MPHS acquisition.

On Dec 14, 2018, Mohd Isa pleaded not guilty to one count of breach of trust, and nine counts of receiving bribes amounting to more than RM3 million.

The offences were allegedly committed at Menara Felda, Platinum Park, Persiaran KLCC between April 29, 2014, and Dec 11, 2015.

The hearing before Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues tomorrow. — Bernama

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