Angkasa taken to court

By Frankie D’Cruz and Nadirah H. Rodzi, The Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR: Crisis-ridden apex cooperative movement Angkatan Koperasi Malaysia (Angkasa) — with a membership of close to eight million — has been slammed with a suit by five cooperatives alleging criminal breach of trust, mismanagement, misappropriation and abuse of power by eight key officials.

The five cooperatives have alleged the officials of Angkasa had cost the national cooperative organisation of Malaysia, that has 7,688 cooperatives under its wings, to suffer losses running into millions of ringgit.

The suit was filed amid a claim this morning by the Adviser to the Cooperative Union of Malaysia, Thuraisingham Shun, that 75 per cent of civil servants were in debt with financial institutions over various loans.

He said the figure, suggested by a Universiti Malaya economist, was a further indicator that Angkasa was in shambles and that today’s suit was a move to revamp the body.

Shun said Angkasa’s operations should be suspended and the accounts frozen until the court has made a decision. The officials implicated are Angkasa president Prof Datuk Mohd Ali Bahrum, Datuk Fatah Abdullah (deputy president), Armi Zainuddin Mutadho Bahri, Jamal Abdullah (all vice-presidents), chief executive officer Nasir Khan Yahya, executive secretary Mohd Zamri Yaakob and chief accountant Suresh Kumar.

The plaintiffs are Koperasi Rangkaian Sahabat Dungun Bhd, Koperasi Insan Bantu Insan Kuala Lumpur Bhd, Koperasi Konsortium Kontraktor Bumiputera Bhd, Koperasi Pembangunan Melayu Raub Berhad and Koperasi Pengurusan Tanah Malaysia Bhd.

The cooperatives filed an originating summons with the Kuala Lumpur High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) this morning seeking a declaration to suspend the officials for allegedly:

● taking more than a million ringgit in allowances for attending board meetings from 2007-2009. The president was accused of taking RM155,118 in 2008.

● failing in their fiduciary responsibilities in the purchase of a land in Kelana Jaya and causing a loss of RM6.5 million in the deal with Malaysian Association of Productivity.

● approving and spending RM500,000 for a delegates’ conference, including allowances, in 2009 in violation of by-laws.

● spending RM1.27 million to buy seven Toyota Camry for their personal use just before Hari Raya last year while only RM400,000 was authorised for that purpose.

● approving and spending RM500,000 over and above the sanctioned budget of RM1.5 million in 2009 without permission.

● abusing their powers in suspending three members of the State liaison committee for three years.

● paying unauthorised allowances to officials of the Malaysian Cooperative Societies Commission, and other government officials who attended several board meetings. These payments were viewed as corruption.

● making false media statements that Angkasa had made a profit of RM2 billion for the financial year ending 30th June 2010.

Fatah and Muhtadho were also said to have failed to relinquish their positions at the ensuing annual general meeting after they were appointed to fill the vacant position of vice-president temporarily following the demise of the former president Datuk Rahim Bakar in 2009.

In the supporting affidavit, a director of Koperasi Rangkaian Sahabat Dungun, Datuk Seri Noor Zainan Zainul, said despite reports to the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Malaysian Cooperative Societies Commission, no action had been taken by the defendants to resolve the issues.

The cooperatives, through their lawyers, applied to the court to suspend the entire board and requested for a court administrator to manage the affairs of Angkasa.

They also sought a forensic audit to ascertain the true financial situation in Angkasa and refer the findings to a special general meeting.

Noor Zainan led four representatives of the other cooperatives to file the affidavit through their lawyer Moghan Muthiah at 10.30am.

Shun later told reporters the five cooperatives would file a certificate of urgency for speedy hearing of the matter.

He said the affected co-operatives had sent a letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Jan 31 and were hoping to meet him to address the state of cooperatives in the country.

Angkasa, registered in May 1971, is recognised by the government as the national apex body of cooperative organisations.