Isa Samad says FGV’s condo lawsuit crafted just to shame him

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 19, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Former Federal Land Development Authority chairperson Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad has denied that he took “steps” that caused FGV Holdings Bhd to buy two luxury condominiums at The Troika, Persiaran KLCC here, purportedly at above the market price.

Instead, he said, the acquisition was a result of a business judgement made collectively by FGV’s board members.

His argument was provided in the amended statement of defence filed with the High Court by him on March 19, in response to a statement of claim filed by FGV against both him and Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah, FGV’s former president and group chief executive officer, over the purchase of the Troika units.

FGV filed the suit against Mohd Isa and Mohd Emir last December. The company claimed that the duo had failed to discharge their “fiduciary duty, duty of fidelity, and/or duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence” with regard to the purchase of the condominiums and other matters, resulting in losses suffered by the company. Mohd Isa’s statement of defence, together with Mohd Emir’s, was obtained by The Edge Financial Daily yesterday when the suit was called for case management.

Mohd Isa said the decision to approve the proposed acquisition of the Troika units was made by the directors, members and persons who attended FGV’s board meeting on June 23, 2014. At the time, Mohd Isa was FGV’s chairman. The decision to buy, he said, was made in good faith and for a proper purpose, with the reasonable belief that the decision was in the best interest of FGV.

He also said that he was permitted to occupy and use one of the units (Unit A), along with his family members, with FGV’s knowledge, approval or consent for almost two years, until he resigned from his chairman post in June 2017. The appointment of vendors to furnish Unit A was similarly authorised by FGV and/or made with its knowledge, approval and consent, he claimed.

He further contended that the alleged loss suffered by FGV as a result of the acquisition is without basis, given that the ownership of the units has remained with FGV since it was purchased in September 2014. “The plaintiff (FGV) was the registered owner of the Troika units and remains the registered owner of the units to date,” Mohd Isa said.

The 69-year-old said the suit filed by FGV against him was an afterthought and for the collateral or politically motivated purpose of simply “shaming” him.

Meanwhile, Mohd Emir, 55, said in his statement of defence that the proposal for the purchase of the Troika units for him and Mohd Isa was mooted by FGV’s company secretary. “The proposal was to get an apartment close to FGV’s headquarters, with the nearest being The Troika. [This] was also mooted by the legal and procurement team,” he said.

Subsequently, he instructed FGV’s head of legal and procurement department to undertake the necessary actions, in accordance with FGV’s protocols, to submit a proposal for the acquisition, Mohd Emir claimed. He also denied that he had exclusive use and possession of the second Troika unit (Unit B), and that the purchase was never done with the intention to benefit him personally in any way.

He added that he never had the units renovated, and that the furnishing of the units was done in accordance with the consent of the then chief human resources officer and the facility management team.

“The ultimate decision for the purchase rests with the board of FGV and the purchase was independently decided by the board,” he said, echoing Mohd Isa’s defence. Therefore, both Mohd Emir and Mohd Isa contended that the suit brought against them ought to be dismissed by the High Court, with costs.

High Court Judge Datuk Azimah Omar yesterday fixed an eight-day trial for the lawsuit, starting Nov 25, to hear the case. The specific hearing dates are Nov 25-29 and Dec 2-4. The case was also fixed for further case management on June 26.

FGV is seeking RM2.9 million from Mohd Isa and Mohd Emir over the condominium units, and RM1.6 million over their use and possession of the units, with the duo to be jointly and severally liable to pay for these sums.

The company is also seeking RM3.14 million from Mohd Emir over the purchase of cars and RM10,837.10 over his petrol benefit, which it claims were abused.

Counsel Arthur Ng Wei Meng appeared for FGV yesterday, while Joshua Goh Shang Yi and Vincent Lawrence acted for Mohd Isa and Mohd Emir respectively.