KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The former chairman of Malaysia's troubled land-development agency Felda, Isa Samad, claimed trial on Friday (Dec 14) at a Sessions Court to one count of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and nine counts of graft involving more than RM3 million (S$984,230).
Isa pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out to him.
According to the first charge, the former Umno vice-president allegedly committed CBT by approving the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching, Sarawak, without approval from the Felda board of directors on April 29, 2014.
The offence under Section 409 of the Penal Code carries a jail term of between two and 20 years, whipping and a possible fine upon conviction.
Isa was also charged with receiving bribes of RM100,000, RM140,000, RM300,000, RM250,000, RM500,000, RM500,000, RM300,000, RM500,000, and RM500,000 - totalling RM3.09 million - from Gagasan Abadi Properties director Ikhwan Zaidel between July 2014 and December 2015.
The charges under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of the bribe for each charge, if found guilty.
Deputy public prosecutor Umar Saifuddin Jaafar offered bail at RM2 million in one surety.
Lawyer K. Kumaraendran, who is representing Isa, asked for a lower bail of RM500,000.
Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi fixed bail at RM800,000 in one surety.
The case is set for mention on Jan 25.
Isa was appointed Felda chairman on Jan 1, 2011. He was replaced by Tan Sri Shahrir Samad in January last year when his term ended but remained as chairman of Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGV).
In June 2017, Isa voluntarily relinquished his post as FGV chairman and was appointed as the Land Public Transport Commission chairman. He left the post in May after Pakatan Harapan won the general election.
Isa had a long career in politics, having served as Barisan Nasional lawmaker for decades before contesting as an independent in the recent Port Dickson by-election.
His political portfolio included Negeri Sembilan chief minister and Federal Territories minister.