NFCorp directors snub PAC, absent from meeting

Azmi Khalid

(The Malaysian Insider) - The directors of the controversial National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) did not turn up to face Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today, and instead sent two lawyers and the company’s administrative manager to the scheduled meeting.

PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the panel had asked the trio representing the company owned by Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s family how the RM250 million federal loan meant for a cattle-farming scheme was spent.

“But they said they were not ready to answer questions,” Azmi told reporters after the one-hour meeting.

Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat and her family have been dogged by allegations of misusing public funds to finance over RM60 million in land, property and expenses unrelated to the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) cattle-farming project.

The project was awarded to Shahrizat’s family in 2006 when she was part of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Cabinet.

Azmi, the Padang Besar MP, said Shahrizat’s husband and NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail and his three children were still “invited” to face the committee but if they failed to respond, the PAC would use its powers to summon them.

Sections 16 and 17 of the Houses of Parliament Act give it powers to order witnesses or evidence to be presented before Parliament or any of its committees.

“We threw the law at the lawyers who were ‘dumbfounded’ by the powers of Parliament,” another PAC member told The Malaysian Insider.

Mohamad Salleh was charged on March 12 with criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act after he allegedly used the cattle-rearing firm’s federal loan for personal expenses.

This came a day after Shahrizat announced she would step down as women, family and community development minister when her senatorship ends on April 8.

NFCorp hit the national headlines after it made it into the Auditor-General’s Report last year for missing production targets. 

The PAC said yesterday NFCorp has yet to repay the RM250 million federal loan despite the repayment date being due two months ago.

Azmi told reporters that the committee was informed of this by Finance Ministry officials who were quizzed on the federally-funded cattle-breeding project.

But the firm responded last night saying it had written to the government on October 27, 2009 to ask for a deferment of loan repayments due to construction delays related to the NFC in Gemas, Negri Sembilan.

It said the government has yet to build an abattoir planned for 2008 which was to be rented to NFCorp to enable it to meet its production targets.

“These… had severely disrupted the targeted beef production numbers of NFCorp and its projected business turnover,” the firm added.