Two charged over Pempena scandal for payment to Ummi Hafilda Ali

By Neville Spykerman, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Two former top officials of scandal-plagued Pempena Sdn Bhd were charged this morning with cheating in what are the first prosecutions involving the controversial Tourism Ministry subsidiary set up during Datuk Seri Azalina Othman’s tenure as minister.

The two former officials were charged over payments made to Ummi Hafilda Ali, who was a key witness in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy and abuse of power trials in 1999.

Today’s prosecution is the culmination of a scandal which broke while Azalina was still minister in 2007.

Pempena chief operating officer Mohammad Rosly Selamat and financial controller Lim Khing Tai were brought to face criminal breach of trust charges involving RM169,700 this morning.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had been investigating Pempena for financial improprieties believed to involve more than RM50 million.

The MACC had originally probed claims that Azalina, the former tourism minister, had hired 20 employees in Pempena although government regulations allow a minister to employ only eight people.

Mohammad Rosly, 56, and Lim, 38, are accused of making unauthorised payments for a concert without the consent of Pempena’s board of directors.

The money via four cheques was paid to Ummi Hafilda as sponsorship payments for organising Arab singer Amr Diab’s concert here.

The alleged offence took place at Pempena’s office at the Putra World Trade Centre on August 15, 2006.

If convicted, they face imprisonment of at least two years and not more than 20 years as well as a whipping and fine.

Session Court judge Rozana Ali Yusof set bail at RM20,000 for each and the case was fixed for mentioned on September 6.