KUALA LUMPUR: The approval for the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites by the Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB) at RM160 million in 2014 was only ‘implied’, the High Court heard.
Witness Datuk Hanapi Shuhada, 62, said there were no proper papers by FICSB parent body, Federal Land Development Authority's (Felda) board of directors for the approval of the purchase of the hotel in Kuching, Sarawak, which was made against the investment mandate below RM100 million.
Hanapi,who was former Felda director-general, revealed this during the criminal breach trust (CBT) and corruption trial of former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad which entered its third day.
He said the matter was brought up at two FICSB board of directors meetings which were chaired by Isa on June 23, 2015, and Aug 4, 2015, but no objections were raised in the meetings, thus it was ‘implied’ that the purchase of the hotel was approved.
“There were no proper papers on the approval for the purchase, it was only in the form of a report,” he said.
Hanapi who was present during the meetings also testified that the approval of the hotel purchase was never raised in the meeting but was only reflected in the minutes of the meetings.
Under cross-examination by Isa’s counsel Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, the witness agreed that FICSB had never concealed the purchase of Merdeka Palace in December 2014 and the board had never questioned or raised any objection on the purchase.
Hanapi said that since he ‘thought’ the purchase of the hotel received the green light from the board, he had approved Isa’s request for a RM100 million deposit for the hotel.
He said there was no standard operating procedure (SOP) to rescind the earlier mandate given by Felda to FICSB to enter an investment below RM100 million.
To a question by the lawyer, Hanapi said the SOP was only formed after the Merdeka Palace controversy broke out.
He said before that, it was up to the members of the board how to handle the matter.
The witness also agreed with the lawyer that although Isa was the chairman, he had never influenced other board members to act according to what he wanted.
Trial continues before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on Monday.
On Dec 14 last year Isa pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust (CBT) by approving the purchase of Merdeka Palace & Suites Hotel in Kuching, Sarawak, without approval from Felda board of directors on April 29, 2014.
The former Umno vice-president also faces nine counts of receiving graft totaling more than RM3 million from Gagasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd director Ikhwan Zaidel between July 2014 and December 2015.