Former Sime Bank CEO back in court again

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KUALA LUMPUR: After 15 years, former Sime Bank chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Ismail Zakaria’s protracted legal battle over the approval of credit involving some RM175 million to an investment company during the 1997 financial crisis, is still far from over.

High Court judge Datuk Kamardin Hashim fixed Dec 12 to hear Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) appeal against his acquittal after the matter came up for mention yesterday.

The Sessions Court on Sept 12, 2011, acquitted and discharged Ismail, 71, over four charges of acting beyond his authority in approving the fund to Everise Capital Sdn Bhd. He was also freed over four alternative criminal breach of trust charges over the same funds. 

He was charged in 1999 for separately approving RM59 million, RM50 million, RM40 million and RM26 million to Everise Capital between Sept 20 and Oct 21 in 1997. 

He was charged under Section 65 (1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) 1989. The offence is punishable under Section 103 (1) (a) of the Act with a jail term of up to five years or a maximum fine of RM5 million, or both.

Following his acquittal, the central bank, represented by prosecutors from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, filed an appeal.

But on May 26 this year, High Court judge Datuk Azman Husin allowed Ismail’s application to strike out the appeal following the prosecution’s failure to turn up in the court on the matter.

BNM then filed an application to reinstate its appeal and stated, among others, that the merit of the case was not heard, which was again rejected by Justice Azman due to the prosecution’s failure to turn up for the matter on the date set earlier, despite notices sent out by the court.

He, however, said the prosecution could appeal to the Court of Appeal.

On Sept 25, The Court of Appeal granted BNM’s appeal and, among others, agreed with prosecutor Syed Faisal Syed Amir that there was a genuine mistake on the prosecution’s part for failing to turn up at the first stage of appeal and sent the matter back to the High Court.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 2, 2014.