KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 18): The government's RM250 million suit against National Feedlot Corp Sdn Bhd (NFC), its chairman Datuk Mohamad Salleh Ismail and nine others will proceed to trial as scheduled on Jan 13 to 15, 17 and 20 next year despite a change in judge at the High Court.
High Court judicial commissioner Anand Ponnudurai, who had been pulled in from private practice into the judiciary last month, maintained the trial dates which was fixed by his predecessor Justice S Nantha Balan, who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal.
NFC and Salleh's lawyer Datuk Seri Rajan Navaratnam along with senior federal counsel Mohd Radhi Abas met Anand in his chambers for case management where the judicial commissioner gave some directions.
According to Rajan, the court gave directions to make up a common bundle of documents, a common chronology of events and witness statements, all of which would have to be submitted on Jan 8.
"The case management for this case is also fixed on Jan 8," he told reporters after meeting the judicial commissioner in chambers.
Asked whether there is a possibility of settlement, Rajan said at the present moment there is none as they had not even gone for mediation.
With this, the trial will proceed as scheduled, added the lawyer.
Salleh is the husband of former Umno Wanita chief and former minister Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
Besides NFC and Salleh, those named as defendants are his three children Wan Shahinur Izmir Mohamad Salleh, Wan Izzana Fatimah Zabedah Mohamad Salleh and Wan Shahinur Izran Mohamad Salleh, and companies Meatworks Corp Sdn Bhd, Techknowlogy Imageware (M) Sdn Bhd, Real Food Company Sdn Bhd, National Meat & Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd, Asian Bioscience Corporation Sdn Bhd and Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd, which are owned by the family.
In May, it was reported that the Finance Ministry is seeking a full repayment of the RM250 million loan it extended to the NFC in 2008, after the latter defaulted on the repayment of the loan.
Together with interest and late interest charges, the outstanding loan amount stood at RM253.62 million as of April 30, 2019.
"From this sum, RM110.84 million is the amount due for repayment to the federal government as of April 30, 2019, consisting of loan principal arrears of RM81.99 million, loan interest of RM22.97 million and late interest charges of RM5.89 million," the ministry said in a statement.
The government filed the suit against them on May 31 this year where it sought RM253.62 million, representing the sum owed to the government, together with interest of 2% per annum and default interest on RM224.77 million.
The government is also seeking a declaration from the court to have Salleh's family personally liable for the debt repayment, the sum of RM118.04 million allegedly misappropriated from the loan and secret profits arising from it as well as Putrajaya's entitlement to claim equitable title to the properties bought using NFC's RM250 million loan from the government.
It was previously reported that NFC was given a RM250 million loan in 2008 for the development of the cattle industry to meet Malaysia's needs. However, part of the funds was instead used for other questionable purchase including condos and other properties in KL and Singapore.