Friday, May 15, 2009

June 30 decision on Kasitah’s corruption case

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has set June 30 for the decision in the corruption case involving former Land and Cooperative Development Minister Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam.

Justice Suraya Othman set the date after the prosecution and defence completed their submissions Friday.

A total of 31 prosecution witnesses had testified, including former Sabah Resource Development and Enterprise Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and former Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd chief operating officer Tan Sri Munir Majid.

Kasitah, 60, also the former chairman of the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB), was charged on Feb 12, 2004 for having used his position as SLDB chairman for financial gain by taking part in the decision to approve the sale of 16.8 million Sapi Plantations shares held by the board to Briskmark Enterprise Sdn Bhd.

He is also alleged to have deceived SLDB by omitting to disclose an offer by PPB Oil Palm Sdn Bhd to allocate five shares of the company for each share of Sapi Plantations in the proposed public listing. Earlier, Kasitah's counsel Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in his submission in reply, had contended that Kasitah was not aware that the source of the RM11.5 million he received into his account to settle the loan with DCB Bank (now known as RHB Bank) in 1997 was from the sale of PPB Oil Palm shares.

"Kasitah is not disputing that money was deposited into his account but his main contention was that the money actually was the sale proceeds of his Intra Oil Sdn Bhd shares (IOs)," stressed Shafee.

He pointed out that if Kasitah had received and sold the 3.36 million PPB Oil Palm shares allegedly allocated to him by Briskmark's director Datuk Wasli Mohd Said, the onus was on the prosecution to prove that Kasitah had received payments for both the PPB Oil Palm and IOS shares.

"The entire machinery of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had investigated him in 2002. If there were two such payments, then they would have been able to trace them in Kasitah's accounts," added Shafee.

He pointed out that Kasitah had never seen the cheque or the cash from the sale proceeds of his IOS shares since all the transactions were carried out by Vincent Chia, a former partner of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

Shafee submitted that Chia was an accomplice in this case and in fact he was the principal offender by acting for SLDB and Briskmark.

"It was a massive conflict of interest on the part of a chartered accountant like Chia who had acted for both seller and buyer, where in this case the prosecution had heavily relied on him to convict Kasitah," argued Shafee.

He said both Chia and Wasli were not inspiring or credible witnesses, where the prosecution also had failed to deal with the issue of collaboration in proving the case against Kasitah.

Shafee concluded by saying that the prosecution's case against his client was “full of conjecture and suspicion” rather than purely based on clear evidence. Deputy Public Prosecutor Hanafiah Zakaria appeared for the prosecution. - Bernama

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