Tajudin settles multimillion dispute with Danaharta ‘out-of-court’
UPDATED @ 07:03:40 AM 15-02-2012PUTRAJAYA, Feb 14 — Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli finally ended his long drawn out multimillion ringgit legal battle with national asset management firm Pengurusan Danaharta Bhd (Danaharta) today when both parties agreed to an “out-of-court settlement”.
Today’s settlement confirms a report by The Malaysian Insider last August that Putrajaya had directed all government-linked companies, including Malaysia Airlines and the national debt restructuring company Danaharta, to cease all civil suits against Tajuddin Ramli, the former chairman of the national carrier and protégé of Tun Daim Zainuddin.
In his agreement with Danaharta, the terms of which remain confidential between the two parties, all suits pertaining to the RM589.14 million that Tajudin was ordered to pay to the firm in 2009, would be dropped.
In the Court of Appeal here today, Tajudin’s lawyer Lim Kean Leong said the appellant had agreed to withdraw a total of 27 appeals, 11 against Danaharta, “in the spirit of settlement”.
“And he (Tajudin) further prays that in respect of costs, they are to be borne by each parties respectively,” Lim told the court, explaining later that both Tajudin (picture) and Danaharta had agreed to bear their respective costs for each of the 11 appeals.
“I’ve made the same request for costs to be borne by each of the remaining parties, but I think my learned friends each have their own responses.
“The reason my client is asking for these parties to bear costs is for the ‘spirit of settlement’.... in the ‘spirit of settlement, he has withdrawn all his appeals and ask for the same spirit (from the others),” Lim added.
But apart from Danaharta, the remaining parties named in Tajudin’s appeals however refused to bear costs, and their legal representatives argued in court today that they had “nothing to do” with the ex-MAS chief’s settlement with Danaharta.
“The settlement has nothing to do with us. We were only told on Friday that there may be a possibility of settlement... We cannot agree to our party bearing the cost,” said one lawyer.
“The settlement that my friend talks about is private and confidential - between Danaharta, the Malaysian government and the appellant.
“We were dragged into this counter-claim (by Tajudin), which was eventually struck out. We had to prepare for the appeals,” said another lawyer K. Kirubakaran, when arguing for Atlan Properties.
The remaining lawyers present agreed with the arguments, and urged the Court of Appeal to maintain the High Court’s previous order for all costs to be born by Tajudin.
Upon standing down for several minutes, the panel of judges led by Datuk Seri Abu Samah Nordin, ordered Tajudin to bear costs amounting to RM15,000 for each of the remaining appeals, save for one against the Malaysian government, which he was ordered to pay a sum of RM5,000.
Those among the remaining parties include Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Telekom Entreprise Sdn Bhd, Technology Resources Industries Bhd(TRI), Celcom, CIMB, Naluri Corporations, Atlan Holdings Bhd, Atlan Properties and Multi Esprit Sdn Bhd.The case before the Court of Appeal today follows a High Court decision on December 7, 2009 for Tajudin to pay Danaharta RM589.14 million with two per cent interest per annum above the base lending rate of Maybank, backdated to January 1, 2006.
The Malaysian Insider reported last August that Putrajaya had directed government-linked companies (GLCs) and national debt restructuring company Danaharta to drop all claims against Tajudin, formerly MAS’s major shareholder.
In a letter sent by de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, the GLCs and Danaharta were informed that the Finance Ministry had agreed to settle all outstanding civil suits against Tun Daim Zainuddin’s protégé out-of-court.
In 2009, Danaharta and two of its subsidiaries won a RM589.14 million suit against Tajudin. The case arose after the tycoon executed a facility agreement on July 13, 1994 to borrow RM1.79 billion from a group of syndicated lenders to finance the purchase by him of a 32 per cent stake in MAS.
However, from 1994 to 1998 he failed to service the original loan, causing it to become a non-performing loan (NPL).
In 1998, Danaharta acquired the NPL from the lenders but Tajuddin also failed to settle his debts to Danaharta until it was in default of RM1.41 billion as at October 8, 2001.
As part of a settlement agreement, Tajudin was to pay RM942 million in four instalments over three years and that he was permitted to redeem his charged shares at a minimum price per share.
Tajudin, however, defaulted in the payment of the quarterly interest payable under the settlement agreement and on April 27, 2002, the plaintiffs terminated the settlement agreement and demanded RM1.61 billion from him.
On April 29, 2002, Danaharta, together with its units Danaharta Urus Sdn Bhd and Danaharta Managers Sdn Bhd sold part of the charged shares consisting entirely of Technology Resources Industries (TRI) shares at RM2.75 per share, resulting in total proceeds of RM717.39 million.
As at December 31, 2005, the amount outstanding was RM589.14 million and on May 11, 2006, Danaharta and the subsidiaries commenced action to recover the money.
Tajudin alleged in his affidavit that he was directed by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Daim in 1994 to buy a controlling stake in MAS to bail out the government.
Tajudin claimed that his purchase was a forced “national service”, disguised as an arm’s length commercial deal, because the government wanted to appease the investment community and the public.
Dr Mahathir however denied in his autobiography published last March that he and Daim had forced Tajudin to bail out MAS in 1994 for RM1.8 billion, claiming instead that Tajudin was “elated” over his purchase.