Felcra CEO not told of proposal to invest RM50mil in unit trusts due to office ‘cold war’, says witness

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court was told that Felcra’s proposal to invest RM50mi in Public Mutual Berhad unit trusts was made without the chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Ramlee Abu Bakar knowledge as there was a “cold war” happening within the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra).

Former Felcra group chief financial officer (CFO) Mohd Azmy Abu Samah, 54, said he did not announce the investment proposal after discussion with the chief investment officer (CIO) Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope.

“When I discussed with the CIO (Zulkarnain), I said the matter (investment proposal) should be brought to the Top Management Council (MPT) but Zulkarnain said if it went through the CEO (Datuk Ramlee), he would not process as it was from Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who was Felcra chairman then.

“Zulkarnain joined one year before me so he was more familiar with Felcra culture. He advised me that there was a cold war between the old team and the new team. As I was new, there was a possibility that relations between the chairman (Bung Moktar) and the CEO (Ramlee) were not good,” he said.

The 26th witness said during examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Sophian Zakaria at the corruption trial involving Bung Moktar and his wife, Datin Seri Zizie Izette Abdul Samad before Judge Rozina Ayob.

Touching on whether the matter was announced to the CEO, Mohd Azmy said he did not inform the CEO but it was possible Felcra Credit Control senior manager Azriman Ridouan had told Ramlee.

According to Mohd Azmy, major investments relating to agriculture or business would be brought to MPT but the RM50mil investment was not brought to MPT as the CEO was not familiar in the investment field.

Mohd Azmy said he heeded the advice of Zulkarnain even though they were of the same rank as he knew the proposal was earlier put into “cold storage” when it was handed to Ramlee.

Questioned by Mohd Sophian on whether Ramlee was informed on the investment proposal, the witness said: “I did not inform Ramlee on the investment but I am not sure of Azriman who was aware of the matter.

Meanwhile, Mohd Azmy told the court that Bung Moktar had asked him to look into whether Felcra could make the investment one month after the unit trust consultant, Norhaili Ahmad Mokhtar came to his office to present the investment.

“After meeting Norhaili in the office, Datuk Bung asked him whether she (Norhaili) came or not. I told him she came and made a presentation (on the unit trust product). I said so far I did not make any commitment as I was busy with pre-audit and budget for next year.

“After that, Datuk Bung told me to look into the matter if possible,” he said and also stated that Bung Moktar had introduced Norhaili to him when he was at a Hari Raya celebration at the house of the Kinabatangan MP.

Mohd Sophian asked what was Mohd Azmy’s action after receiving the order from Bung Moktar to look at (Public Mutual unit trust investment ).

Mohd Azmy said he asked Azriman to carry out a study on the unit trust investment as well as looking into the unit trust market, stock exchange situation compared with other companies.

“The analysis found the market then had fallen and it was the best time to invest in unit trust,” he said.

The witness said he later took the approach of looking into the financial position of Felcra after being informed by Azriman that a Public Mutual investment agent had enquired if Felcra was interested in investing in the unit trust.

“I asked Azriman and Mariah Husain (Felcra finance general manager) to carry out a simulation and prepare a proposal paper to invest in the unit trust,” he said.

The proceedings continue Tuesday (March 29).

On May 3, 2019, Bung Moktar, 64, pleaded not guilty to two charges of receiving bribes amounting to RM2.2mil and RM262,500 as an inducement to obtain the approval of Felcra to make a RM150mil investment in Public Mutual.

Bung Moktar, who was the non-executive chairman of Felcra then, allegedly received the bribes from Madhi through Zizie Izette at the Public Bank branch in Taman Melawati here between 12.30pm and 5pm on June 12, 2015.

He also pleaded not guilty to receiving cash bribes of RM335,500 from Norhaili under Zizie Izette’s name for the same reason at the same place on June 19 2015 while Zizie Izette, 44, pleaded not guilty to three charges of abetting with her husband on the matter at the same place, date and time. – Bernama