KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad was found guilty of nine corruption charges involving RM3 million by the High Court here today.
Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, when delivering his judgment, said that the prosecution provided sufficient evidence to prove their charges against the former Negri Sembilan mentri besar beyond reasonable doubt.
Mohd Nazlan added that Isa’s defence failed to successfully disprove the prosecution’s case against Mohd Isa, that their defence was based on afterthoughts, had an inconsistent narrative, and was without proper evidence to back their arguments.
“The defence is based on afterthoughts, is inconsistent, and are only baseless denials or those that are not credible.
“The Court also finds the defence of the accused within the context of all the testimonies of the case has failed to raise any reasonable doubt and the prosecution has managed to prove their case as stated in all nine charges.
“With that, this court finds the accused guilty and is convicted for all the nine charges under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act,” said Nazlan.
Mohd Isa was charged in December 2018 with nine counts receiving gratification amounting to more than RM3 million and one count of criminal breach of trust (CBT).
He was acquitted of the CBT charge in June last year at the end of the prosecution’s case, but was ordered to enter his defence to answer for the nine corruption charges.
He had claimed trial to receiving the gratification from one Ikhwan Zaidel, a board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd (GAPSB), through his former special political officer Muhammad Zahid Md Arip.
The gratification was for helping to approve the purchase of the Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak, by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) from GAPSB for RM160 million.
When reading out his judgement today, Mohd Nazlan rebutted each narrative presented by the lawyers in defence of Mohd Isa, most of which the judge ruled were fabricated.
The judge pointed out how the defence’s main strategy that seemed to pin the wrongdoing on Muhammad Zahid and paint him as the mastermind was a flawed narrative that lacked the sufficient evidence to be considered by the court, nor was it one that successfully planted the seed of doubt.
Mohd Nazlan pointed out how testimonies by two defence witnesses who accused Muhammad Zahid of having his own corrupt intentions was never tested against the former special officer when he was on the witness stand.
“Therefore the Court is of the view that the defence concerning the supposed confession by Muhammad Zahid to the two defence witnesses is an afterthought, and in truth was a fabricated story, and weak one at that.
“This itself has seriously compromised the defence of the accused,” Mohd Nazlan said.
The judge also pointed out how Mohd Isa’s argument that Muhammad Zahid had malice intentions of cashing in on the purchase of the hotel while implicating the former MB to divert unwanted attention was an unacceptable narrative.
Mohd Nazlan said evidence showed that Muhammad Zahid, as the accused’s subordinate, was merely carrying out his duties per the instructions of Mohd Isa when he delivered the bribes to his boss on nine separate occasions.
He said evidence even at the end of the prosecution stage could not support the theory of Muhammad Zahid looking to take advantage of his boss.
“Muhammad Zahid was the accused’s special office from 2011 to December 2016. There has been no statement made by the accused himself that he had a problem with Muhammad Zahid during this period.
Mohd Nazlan also underscored Mohd Isa’s testimony confirming he had fired Muhammad Zahid as his special political officer only after the latter had criticised the Barisan Nasional government and declared his support for Pakatan Harapan.
“However, the Court finds it important to emphasise that the termination of Muhammad Zahid’s contract was admitted by the accused to have nothing to do with the purchase of MPHS.
“Therefore, based on the testimony given by the accused himself, there is no reason for Muhammad Zahid to implicate the accused, unless (it was about) Muhammad Zahid exposing the actual intention for the bribes that the accused received from prosecution witness 16 through Muhammad Zahid. ,” he said.
Muhammad Zahid, the judge added, was also never in a position influential enough to sway the decision of the FICSB board concerning their decision to purchase the MPHS.
Mohd Nazlan also touched on the argument that there were no witnesses of the bribes being handed to Mohd Isa, which he said was consistent with the testimony of Muhammad Zahid who told the court the transactions were done covertly with only the payee, himself, and Mohd Isa being aware.
“The court finds that it is indeed true that no one witnessed the accused receiving the cash being handed over by Muhammad Zahid, (not) even one of the nine charges.
“It was explained before when Muhammad Zahid himself spoke on the covertness of this matter and that not a single person was aware of the cash being handed over to the accused.
“Even the accused himself agreed when questioned that it would be unreasonable for Muhammad Zahid to bring money to be handed over with other staff in presence.
“The testimonies of two defence witnesses also did not support the accused’s defence. The testimony by Muhammad Zahid was supported by the statement of the bribe giver himself, which was prosecution witness 16, who clearly stated the purpose of handing over to Muhammad Zahid was for it to be given to the accused,” said Mohd Nazlan.
* Editor's note: An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to Isa Samad as still being with Umno and has since been rectified.