Bank not authorized to release my confidential banking information to Rafizi Ramli, say NFCorp chairman

The Kuala Lumpur High Court was today told that Public Bank Berhad was not authorized to divulge the confidential banking information of National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd, its group of companies as well as its directors, to PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli.

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When asked by his counsel Datuk M David Morais if he had given permission to the bank to release or to Rafizi Ramli access to his confidential banking information, NFCorp chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail replied, “I did not.”

Salleh made this testimony before Kuala Lumpur high court judicial commissioner Tuan Azizul Azmi bin Adnan in his suit against Parti Keadilan Rakyat secretary general and Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and MKini Dot Com Sdn Bhd.

The court was then shown a video clip of the actions by the defendants in which Rafizi Ramli had on 7 March 2012, called a news conference to highlight the purchase of eight KL Eco City commercial properties as luxury properties.

The properties, Rafizi alleged, were purchased through loans obtained from a bank that leveraged on a government loan deposit of RM71 million placed in the same bank. Rafizi described in detail various attachments to support his claims.

Rafizi also claimed that Salleh was not credit worthy as the latter had only RM421 in his bank account and therefore the government loan deposit placed at the bank would be at peril. Rafizi also alleged that Salleh had defaulted on the repayment of the eight KL Eco City loans.

Salleh clarified to the court that no loans were taken for the eight KL Eco City commercial properties as the offer from the Public Bank Berhad had expired on 4 January 2012.

“With no loans taken for the eight KL Eco City properties, how could I have defaulted as claimed by Rafizi,” Salleh said.

Salleh added that Rafizi lied, distorted and misrepresented when the latter distributed to the media copies of his confidential banking information in violation of BAFIA to convince the media that PKR had a major expose. Twenty-five bank accounts were exposed by Rafizi Ramli at the news conference.

When asked by his counsel on why he had filed a suit against Rafizi Ramli and MKini Dot Com Sdn Bhd (first and second defendants respectively), Salleh said, “My claim against both the defendants are for defamation and I wish for them to apologize and compensate the plaintiffs for all lies that were manufactured by Rafizi Ramli and published by MalaysiaKini against myself and my family where my reputation and my entire family prestige, had been completely destroyed by the acts of the defendants.

“The acts of the defendants also caused the collapse of the entire businesses of NFCorp and its related companies.  The entire corporate image of NFCorp and its subsidiaries had been completely destroyed beyond redemption as a result of the acts of the two defendants.”

Earlier, the trial began with Salleh explaining his companies and credentials.

Salleh dismissed opposition critics that he had not been qualified for the National Feedlot Centre project, testifying that he graduated in 1973 from the South Bank Polytechnic, London, in food science and technology, and later in 1977 earned a PhD in the same field from the prestigious Ivy League university Cornell in New York famed for agricultural sciences.

Salleh continued to explain to the court that NFCorp is the acronym for National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd, who is the second plaintiff named in this action.

“The court needs to understand that the NFC and NFCorp are distinct. The NFC represents the National Feedlot Centre or Pusat Fidlot Nasional under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry. The NFC was located on 5,000 acres of land in Gemas. NFCorp on the other hand refers to National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd, a private limited company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1965 and operated by myself and my children. The government of Malaysia is represented in NFCorp at the board level by three directors and holds a preferential non-voting share which serves as a governmental oversight. NFCorp was allocated 1,500 acres of the NFC to undertake the beef production project.

“NFCorp, he said, was established in 2007 as a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd with a paid up capital of RM1.11 million. NFCorp and its related companies are all 100% wholly-owned by myself and my children within the group.”

The court was told that NFCorp was established as the integrator of the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) to fulfill the government’s policy to meet the objectives of the National Meat Policy (Ruminant Sector) 2006. NFC is a Government High Impact project, and NFCorp was established as a Public Private Sector Collaboration with the Government where an agreement known as the Implementation Agreement was drawn up and executed between the second plaintiff and the Government of Malaysia to meet the objectives of the National Meat Policy.

“In the Auditor General’s 2010 Report, it should be noted that it was the NFC that was audited and not NFCorp as claimed. The auditor general in his report is clear on this as well as in his subsequent letter of 25 January 2012 to NFCorp and the news release issued by his office to the media on the same day.”

Salleh added, NFCorp’s business model was based on a “farm-to-fork” business concept.

“This proposal was first submitted to the selection committee at the Ministry of Agriculture chaired by the minister. Later it was submitted to the National Implementation Task Force (NITF) under the High Impact Project. This committee was chaired by the prime minister to which NFCorp presented its pitch proposal.”

“The approved ‘farm to fork’ model was more than just feedlotting as wrongly claimed by the opposition to the media. It encompasses many activities starting from breeding of cattle, to importing of live cattle, fattening (feedlotting), slaughtering, aging and storage (abattoir and cold rooms), transportation of beef, retailing and promotion (restaurants and supermarkets) as well as all the supporting industries as shown in the chart.”

This holistic business model, said Salleh, received overwhelming approval by the NITF committee chaired by the prime minister. As a result the government also approved NFCorp’s loan application.

Datuk Dr Salleh was today represented by his legal counsels Datuk M David Morais, Al Firdaus Shahrul Naing, Karyn Khoo, Sara Ann Chay Sue May and Syed Ismat Syed Muhamad.

Earlier on 24 November 2015, the sessions court presided by judge Puan Nursharidah Awang acquitted and discharged NFCorp chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail of all four criminal charges in view of the decision of the Public Prosecutor not to proceed with the charges.

Hearing continues Thursday.