Malaysia

Rafizi attacks show fear of Wanita BN strength, says Shahrizat

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil accused PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli in the High Court here today of attacking her over the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal because he feared the strength of Wanita Barisan Nasional (BN).

Shahrizat, a former Cabinet minister and current Wanita Umno chief, disagreed that Rafizi was attacking Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Datuk Seri Noh Omar in his statements accusing Najib and Noh of lying to Parliament in 2011, on the RM250 million government loan to the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp).

“Your client was gunning for me as Wanita BN chief because he’s afraid of the strength of Wanita BN,” Shahrizat (picture) told Rafizi’s lawyer Ranjit Singh in court, gesturing angrily.

“You sued my client on words he said in the press statement. Reading this, would you agree that my client was going after the prime minister and the agriculture and agro-based industry minister?” asked Ranjit at the hearing of Shahrizat’s RM100 million defamation suit against Rafizi and PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin.

“He was coming after me... it was always Shahrizat’s family (that Rafizi mentioned),” Shahrizat replied.

Ranjit said Rafizi’s press statement was in response to Najib and Noh, who told Parliament in October and November 2011 that the RM250 million government loan was not fully disbursed to NFCorp.

He added that Rafizi had said NFCorp’s financial statements filed with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) showed that the company had drawn down RM250 million by March 31, 2009.

Questioned further, Shahrizat accused Rafizi of mala fide, or acting in bad faith, prompting Ranjit to say in a soft voice: “You must really contain yourself.”

Shahrizat also said she was unaware of the two luxury condominiums purchased using NFCorp funds.

She added that the government released the RM250 million loan in a special loan account, but that the “actual amount the company would have used is RM181 million”.

Shahrizat, who was the women, family and community development minister, said that the Real Food Company (RFC), which runs the Meatworks restaurant chain, and 70 other buyers received discounts from NFCorp totaling RM2.9 million.

“RFC got the discount together with 70 other buyers,” she said.

NFCorp is owned by Shahrizat’s husband Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail and the couple’s three children.

Rafizi has previously said that although he had repeatedly raised the question of conflict of interest in the award of the NFC project to Mohamad Salleh’s company when Shahrizat was still in the Cabinet, it was only the NFCorp chairman who was charged in court with wrongdoing.

On May 12 last year, Mohamad Salleh pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court to two counts of criminal breach of trust involving RM49.7 million in NFCorp funds with regards to the purchase of two condominium units.

Rafizi, who has been at the forefront of the exposé on the scandal, was charged together with former Public Bank clerk Johari Mohamad under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA) for disclosing banking documents related to NFCorp.

Both of them could be fined a maximum of RM3 million or be jailed up to three years if found guilty.

The hearing before Justice Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera resumes this afternoon.

 

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