Decision on Isa Samad’s graft charges this Wednesday

(Bernama) – Former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad will know his fate on nine corruption charges involving RM3 million over the agency’s purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak, this Wednesday (Feb 3).

High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will decide whether Mohd Isa, 71, who is also former Negri Sembilan mentri besar,  is guilty of the offences or not.

According to the court cause list, Justice Mohd Nazlan is expected to deliver his ruling at 9.30am.

Mohd Isa was charged with nine counts of dishonestly receiving gratification for himself, in cash totalling RM3,090,000  from Ikhwan Zaidel, who is a board member of  Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd (GAPSB), through his former special political officer Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, as gratification for helping to approve the purchase of the hotel by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) for RM160 million.

All the offences were allegedly committed at Level 49, Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11, Persiaran KLCC near here between July 21, 2014, and Dec 11, 2015.

The charges were  framed under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)  Act 2009, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law, which provides a jail term of not exceeding 20 years and a fine of at least five times the bribe amount, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Hearing of the case began on Oct 8, 2019 with the prosecution calling 22 witnesses, including former Felda director-general Datuk Hanapi Suhada, former chief executive officer of FICSB Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil,  Ikhwan and Muhammad Zahid.

On June 16 2020, Justice  Mohd Nazlan ordered Mohd Isa to enter his defence on nine corruption charges after finding the prosecution having successfully adduced  credible evidence proving each and every essential ingredient of the offence of  accepting gratification under Section 16 (a) (A) of the MACC Act.

The judge however discharged and acquitted Mohd Isa on one criminal breach of trust (CBT) charge over the hotel purchase for RM160 million without the approval of the Felda Board of Directors after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove prima facie case against him.

Mohd Isa chose to give his sworn statement from the witness stand and his defence proceedings were held on Aug  17 last year.

In his testimony, Mohd Isa denied receiving RM3 million, in nine transactions, from  Muhammad Zahid, over the purchase MPHS in 2014.

“I never instructed Zahid (Muhammad Zahid) to ask Haji Ikhwan (Ikhwan Zaidel) to reward  me for helping to approve the purchase of MPHS,” he said.

On Sept 3 last year, the defence closed its case after calling six witnesses, including Mohd Isa’s former secretary, Zuraida Ariffin @ Shaari and former Special Officer, Kamar Bashah Shariff, with Mohd Isa called as the first witness.

On 24 Dec last year, during submissions at the end of the defence, counsel Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, representing Mohd Isa, said that the RM3 million was for Muhammad Zahid and his cronies and not for his client.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz  argued that Zuraida’s testimony showed that Muhammad Zahid had the freedom to enter Mohd Isa’s room without anybody’s permission and his presence in the accused’s room were also not recorded by Zuraida.

“This is enough to prove that Muhammad Zahid has easy access to the accused’s room, and he could have easily entered the accused’s room to handover the money from Ikhwan as what he had testified. This clearly shows that  Zuraida did not see Muhammad Zahid handing over the money to the accused,”  he said.