The High Court here was told today that former Felda chairperson Mohd Isa Samad did not seek approval to purchase the RM160 million Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) in Kuching, Sarawak, at the Felda’s board of directors’ (BOD) meeting.
Former Felda director-general Hanapi Suhada, 62, confirmed the matter, saying that he also attended the meeting as he was then a member of Felda’s BOD.
“Isa Samad was the Felda chairperson and he also chaired the Felda board of directors' meeting. He (Isa Samad) was involved in making decisions at the meeting,” he said when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Afzainizam Abdul Aziz on the third day of the trial of former Felda chairperson Mohd Isa Samad, who is facing charges of corruption and criminal breach of trust involving RM3 million before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Afzainizam: Could the Felda chairperson (Isa) decide whether a working paper (proposal) can be tabled at the BOD meeting or not?
Hanapi: He could.
Afzainizam: Would you object if the Felda chairperson (Isa) did not allow the working paper to be tabled at the meeting?
Hanapi: Depending on the working paper. If I feel it was necessary, I will give my opinion and ultimately it is the chairperson who decides. I will agree. The chairperson will make the decision, and I will agree.
The fifth prosecution witness, Hanapi, also agreed with Afzainizam that the RM100 million investment mandate decided by Felda was never withdrawn or abolished.
When re-examined by Afzainizam, Hanapi confirmed that the approval of the hotel purchase by Felda's subsidiary, Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd, was only implied, with no written decision made by Felda’s BOD.
“The working paper on the hotel purchase should be tabled at the BOD’s meeting,” he said when asked by Afzainizam over the purchase of the hotel which exceeded the RM100 million investment mandate.
Earlier, during cross-examination by counsel Sallehudin Saidin representing Mohd Isa, Hanapi said he agreed that the standard operating procedure at Felda Investment Corporation was only introduced after the issue on the hotel purchase surfaced.
Sallehudin: So prior to that, members of Felda Investment Corporation BOD made decisions according to their whims and fancies?
Yesterday, when reading out his witness statement, Hanapi verified the copies of the minutes of the meeting of Felda BOD, number 328 dated June 23, 2015, and number 329, dated Aug 4, 2015.
“The minutes were recorded by Felda board secretary Erwan Aman and signed by Isa Samad. I verify Isa Samad's signature on the last page of the minutes of the meeting.
“The meeting discussed the advance payment of RM100 million to Felda Investment Corporation to finance the hotel project and proposed repayment method of the advance,” he added.
On Dec 14, 2018, Mohd Isa pleaded not guilty to one count of breach of trust, and nine counts of receiving bribes amounting to more than RM3 million.
The offences were allegedly committed at Menara Felda, Platinum Park, Persiaran KLCC between April 29, 2014, and Dec 11, 2015.
The hearing continues.