Tourism trio charged

By Tan Yi Liang, TheSun

Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg Mirza Hadi Hassan Beg and two former top officials of  ministry subsidiary Pempena were yesterday charged with committing criminal breach of trust totalling almost RM1 million.

Mirza, 53, and former Pempena Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mohammad Rosly Md Selamat, 56, claimed trial to CBT of RM888,000 at the Pempena office at Menara Dato Onn, PWTC, on Feb 27, 2007.

They allegedly approved payment for the construction of Restaurant Malaysia Dubai although conditions for construction were not met, and banked the money into the account of LCL Interior LCL Dubai.

Earlier, in another court, Mohammad Rosly and former Pempena financial controller Lim Khing Thai, 38, claimed trial to a joint charge of CBT involving RM169,770 on Aug 15, 2006. They allegedly paid the money to Umi Hafilda Ali as sponsorship for concerts by singer Amr Diab despite knowing that the payment had yet to be authorised by the Pempena board of directors.

They allegedly did so by signing four Bumiputera Commerce Berhad cheques  at the Pempena office.

According to a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) complaint form dated May 5, last year, the commission received information that Mohammad Rosly and Lim had received a bribe from Ummi Hafilda in return for approving a RM300,000 to sponsor Amr Diab concerts at KLCC and Stadium Negara.

All three were charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code which provides for a penalty of not less than two years and up to 20 years imprisonment, whipping  and a fine upon conviction.

In the case against Mirza  and Mohammad Rosly, DPP Nahra Dollah urged the court to set bail ay RM100,000 for each accused, due to the large sum involved and asked the court to impound their passports.

Mirza’s lawyer Saseedharan Menon, however, asked for bail to be set lower, saying Mirza had earlier appeared to face corruption charges for which he had been acquitted. Mirza was acquitted and discharged on July 24 last year after being tried for accepting dental treatment amounting to RM13,860.

Saseedharan pointed out that Mirza had not only cooperated fully with the investigations by the MACC the first time around, but he was fully cooperative in the probe on this charge.

“This man has been through hell. He has faced the music of the MACC and the music of a criminal prosecution, and we are putting him through another round of music,” said Saseedharan.

He submitted that Mirza should be allowed a low bail, pointing out that his client was released on only a RM5,000 bail the first time he was charged.

He said that Mirza, who was scheduled to go for umrah today, had postponed it to Aug 18 to be present in court, and that he would return on Aug 29. Saseedharan also submitted that Mirza would require his passport for work visits abroad.

Judge Azizah Mahmud then set bail at RM30,000 with one surety for Mirza, and directed that he surrender his passport on Sept 1 after returning from umrah.

Mohammad Rosly was granted bail of RM50,000 and told to surrender his passport on Sept 6 after a familiy reunion in Melbourne from Aug 26 to Sept 6.

In the case where Mohammad Rosly and Lim were jointly charged, bail was fixed at RM20,000 each.

Mention for all three accused was set at Sept 6.