Rafizi admits Zahid had no role in Boustead land swap

(MM) – PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli today withdrew allegations linking Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to a share acquisition and land swap deal involving Boustead Holdings Berhad.

In a settlement of Zahid’s defamation suit against Rafizi, the latter agreed to withdraw statements he made linking Zahid to the decision by Boustead Holdings Berhad to acquire Astachanggih Sdn Bhd shares and land from Awan Megah Sdn Bhd during his tenure as Defence Minister.

Reading his withdrawal statement before Justice Lee Heng Cheong in open court, Rafizi said he was satisfied with Zahid’s explanation that he had not abused his powers or had any role in the Boustead deal.

Zahid filed his suit against Rafizi in January this year, claiming that the PKR man had falsely accused him of abusing his power as Defence Minister in the acquisition of an 80 per cent stake in Astachanggih – previously owned by businessman Deepak Jaikishan – and the purchase of a RM130 million plot of land from Awan Megah, owned by Selangor Wanita Umno chief Datuk Raja Ropiaah Abdullah.

Outside the courtroom today, Rafizi said Zahid had over the course of the case explained his position in the matter and had raised some details that were not previously known to clear himself of the controversial transactions.

“The whole episode is a good development for democracy and accountability, where a public official is subject to public scrutiny.

“Whatever statement that I made (linking Zahid to the Boustead deals) were made with the information at hand at the time, and I did not have any malicious intent behind it.

“However, my withdrawal statement does not absolve anyone of their involvement in the transactions… this goes back to the previous Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib (Razak) and the board members of Boustead,” he said.

Zahid was also present in court today, and was accompanied by his lawyer Datuk Saseedharan Menon while Rafizi was represented by Razlan Hadri Zulkifli.

The controversy surrounding the Boustead acquisitions surfaced late last year when the company – which is a subsidiary of Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) – stated in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that it would acquire a majority stake in Astacanggih.

The RM30 million deal was on top of a decision by Boustead to purchase a plot of land in Selangor worth RM130 million from Raja Ropiaah’s company.