KUALA LUMPUR: Former Sime Bank chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Zakaria was today fined RM600,000 in default 40 months jail by the High Court on four charges of acting beyond his authority to approve credit facilities totaling some RM175 millions to an investment firm.
Judicial Commissioner Datuk Abd Karim Abd Rahman, in allowing the prosecution appeal's against Ismail's 2011 acquittal at the Sessions court, said the presiding judge in that case had seriously erred in her findings.
Bank Negara Malaysia has appealed against the acquittal through the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) and today's conviction brings an end to one of Malaysia's longest running cases.
"She believed the prosecution during the prosecution's case but did not believe them at the defence case. Instead she chose believe in the testimony of the respondent which had no basis."
He said the respondent is this case also had departed from the mandate given by the Sime Bank board of directors who wanted the loans to be given out to settle the outstanding debts but the person applying for the loan, Datuk Low Thiam Hock, had used to money to buy more shares which he used as collateral against the outstanding debts.
But the 1997 Asian financial crisis had wiped out the value of the shares which resulted in Sime Bank suffering heavy losses.
Low is also known in the business circle as Repco Low.
Ismail, 74, who is now wheelchair-bound after suffering a stroke, was charged with approving RM59 million, RM50 million, RM40 million and RM26 million to Everise Capital Sdn Bhd. at his office, 2nd Floor, Sime Bank Building in Jalan Sultan Ismail near here between Sept 20 and Oct 21, 1997.
He was fined RM150,000 in default ten months jail, for each offence.
Ismail was charged under Section 65(1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) 1989, and punishable under Section 103(1)(a) of the same Act, provide for jail terms of up to five years or a maximum fine of RM5 million, or both, for each charge.
The prosecution was led by Abdul Rashid Daud who is head of commercial and cyber crime at AGC while Kitson Foong represented Ismail.