Isa Samad’s graft trial involving Felda’s hotel buy to start on Oct 7

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 12, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The trial of former Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, who is facing one count of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and nine charges of receiving bribes totalling RM3.09 million linked to Felda’s purchase of a hotel in Kuching, Sarawak, will begin on Oct 7.

High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali fixed 13 days for the trial after being told by deputy public prosecutor Allan Suman Pillai that the prosecution would be calling in 30 witnesses for the trial.

“The court fixes Oct 7 to 9 and Oct 14 to 25 as trial dates. The court also fixes May 13 for case management,” Justice Nazlan said.

Earlier, Isa had the 10 charges read before him again before Justice Nazlan.

Specifically, he was charged with a CBT charge and nine graft charges involving RM3.09 million, with regard to Felda’s purchase of the Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching, by Felda Investment Corp Sdn Bhd (FIC Sdn Bhd).

On the first charge, Isa was alleged to have approved the hotel purchase for RM160 million without approval of Felda’s board of directors. He was charged with committing the offence at Menara Felda here on April 29, 2014.

The charge was framed under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, together with whipping and a fine, upon conviction.

Under the graft charges, he was accused of dishonestly receiving a cash gratification involving RM3.09 million from Ikhwan Zaidel, a board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd, through Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, in return for helping approve the hotel purchase by FIC Sdn Bhd, for RM160 million.

The graft charges were made under Section 16 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, under which Isa stands to face a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine of up to five times the amount of bribes he received.

Muhammad Zahid was Isa’s former special officer. He is now working as an aide to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.