Court dismisses 486 settlers’ suit against Felda

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― The High Court here today dismissed the lawsuit filed by 486 settlers in Jengka, Pahang, against Felda and its subsidiary, Palm Industries Sdn Bhd, over alleged fraud in the sale and purchase of palm fruit.

High Court Judicial Commissioner Datuk Ab Karim Abdul Rahman made the decision after finding that the plaintiff had failed to prove the allegation.

He said that there was no conspiracy committed by the two defendants to cheat the plaintiffs in the transaction in question and that the plaintiffs' witnesses had also failed to substantiate the allegation.

“I hereby dismiss the plaintiffs' application with cost,” said the judicial commissioner who also ordered the plaintiffs to pay cost of RM200,000 to both defendants.

On June 26, 2011, a total of 711 settlers from 16 Felda settlements in Jengka, Pahang, filed the suit against Felda and Felda Palm Industries Sdn Bhd, but 225 of them withdrawn themselves from the case, including a few who passed away.

In their statement of claims, the settlers claimed that the defendants had committed an act of fraud in the sale and purchase of palm fruits to the extent of causing big loss to them.

The plaintiffs claimed that palm fruits sent to mills belonging to Felda Palm Industries were weighed, graded and paid according to the Oil Extraction Rate (OER) as written on Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) document before they were processed and marketed by the company.

However, they claimed that the quality of the OER recommended by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) was higher than the one prepared by the two defendants, and that the FFB document issued by Felda Palm Industries did not follow the one provided by MPOB.

They claimed that Felda had conspired with its subsidiary to commit fraud in OER grading or had fixed the weighing scale to reduce the OER with the ill-intent to lower the price per tonne that needed to be paid to them.

Earlier, defendants' lawyer Ahmad Al-Hady Abdul Razak applied to the court to have the plaintiffs to pay cost of RM2.43 million on grounds that the trial had taken 32 days and involved 23 witnesses.

However, R.Sivarasa representing the settlers said that the amount was unreasonable and applied for the amount of RM30,000 for all settlers. ― Bernama

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