KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 Former Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd managing director Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor today claimed trial to abusing his position by offering contracts for the RM9.13 billion procurement of littoral combat ships (LCS) by Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS).

Ahmad Ramli was charged at the Sessions Court here on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) under Section 409 of the Penal Code.

“I plead not guilty to, and ask to be tried,” he replied when the charged were read to him before judge Suzana Hussin.

The prosecution suggested bail be set at RM500,000 and for the accused to surrender his passport to court, which was approved by the judge.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin suggested trial start on November 24, which was agreed to by all parties.

Ahmad Ramli, who was also chairman of the LCS Steering Committee, is accused of abusing his position as director of BNS by offering contracts to companies without approval from the board.

In the first charge, he is accused of approving a payment of RM13,541,140 to Setaria Holding Limited at the Standard Chartered Bank, 6 Battery RD, Singapore 049909 without approval from the BNS board. This offence was allegedly committed between July 26, 2010 and March 25, 2011.

The second charge was for approving a payment of RM1,360,716 payment to JSD Corporation Pte Ltd at the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited in Singapore also without approval of the BNS board. This was allegedly committed between April 19, 2011 and May 4, 2011.

The final charge was for approving payment of RM6,182,295 to Sousmarin Armada Ltd at Standard Chartered Bank at 6 Battery Road, Singapore, allegedly committed between October 28, 2010 and November 22, 2010.

All three offences were allegedly committed at Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd on the 17th Floor, Menara Boustead, 69 Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur.

Ahmad Ramli, who was also chairman of the LCS Steering Committee, also allegedly appointed committee members without the approval of the BNS board.

If found guilty, Ahmad Ramli can be punished with a minimum jail time of two years and a maximum of 20 years, a fine, and whipping.

In its report released on August 8, Parliament's bipartisan watchdog Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said BNS was awarded a RM9.128 billion 10-year contract from 2013 to 2023 for the supply of the six LCS.

The PAC report also said the Malaysian government had to date already paid RM6.083 billion to the contractor, but none of the six LCS vessels have been completed. Based on the original schedule, five of the six LCS vessels should have been completed and handed over by August 2022.

According to the PAC, the project had run into cost overruns of RM1.4005 billion as the government’s payments to the Boustead Naval Shipyard was not fully used for the LCS project, noting that the RM1.4 billion overrun included RM400 million that was spent to pay off an old debt for the New Generation Patrol Vehicle project.

The PAC report said equipment kept in storage for the LCS project is estimated to be worth RM1.7 billion, with an estimated 15 per cent of these already obsolete.