Wednesday, November 10, 2010

PKFZ: Were OSK Trustees Cheated?

Did the Attorney-General office charge the 3 accused in the PKFZ scandal of cheating OSK Trustees without first establishing that OSK Trustees were cheated?

In December 2009, Engineer Law Jenn Dong, 52, architect Bernard Tan Seng Swee, 49, and Kuala Dimensi chief operating officer Stephen Abok, 52 were accused with dozens of charges of cheating the Port Klang Authority (PKA) by by misleading the authority into believing that the 33kv system to Precinct 2 and Precinct 8, as well as other electrical infrastructure works for the PKFZ had been completed when they knew otherwise, thus deceiving PKA into paying up to RM122.267 milllion to Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB).

Two days ago, they were offered 24 alternative charges by the prosecution for all their original charges by the Deputy Public Prosecutor. In these alternative charges, they were accused of “deceiving OSK Trustees” instead of cheating PKA, into believing that various 33KV electrical infrastructure works for the PKFZ had been completed in order to collect payment, despite knowing that it was not. These offences were allegedly committed at the OSK Trustees office, Plaza OSK in Ampang, between June 30, 2006 and June 20, 2008. The amount in the payments from OSK Trustees ranged between RM583,000 and RM16.73 million, totalling to RM116.85 million.

However, in a shocking response yesterday, as published in the Financial Daily today, OSK Trustees were “taken by surprise” at these new charges and have denied knowledge that it was “cheated” into releasing millions of ringgits in payments for the PKFZ project. According to the report, “OSK Trustees is said to have been caught unawares given that it had not filed any official complaint with the authorities that it had been “cheated”.

The above raises the key question of whether the Attorney-General's office has done all the necessary investigations and due diligence on the case before initiating these charges. One can only imagine during the trial when an OSK Trustees representative takes the witness stand and when asked if they were cheated, they then declare that they do not think or believe that they were “cheated”. Would not the entire prosecution case collapse?!

Additionally, the prosecution charges of OSK Trustees being “cheated”, and the denial by OSK Trustees of being unaware of being “cheated” has raised the question as to whether the Trustees can now continue to legally make payments to the bondholders. The OSK Trustees have written to reassure bondholders that the funds due this month for principal and coupon redemptions “would be duly paid out on the due dates”.

Given that there is now the real possibility that at least part of these funds received by OSK Trustees were derived from the process of “cheating”, then can the cheated funds be legally utilised to make further payments? And if OSK Trustees proceed to make payments despite now knowing of the seriousness of the potential implications, would they be abetting or become party to the conspiracy by disbursing these funds?

What's more, if the Attorney-General's office is certain that these monies paid to OSK Trustees were derived from cheating, then would it not be proper for the prosecution to apply for the monies to be frozen to ensure recoverability upon a successful prosecution?

As highlighted in the debate on the Attorney-General's pay cut in Parliament yesterday where Pakatan Rakyat leaders have expressed grave concerns over the quality of prosecution which have resulted in multiple corruption charges against junior officials such as former Ampang Municipal Council enforcement director Abdul Kudus Ahmad, as well as against high-profile VIP cases against former Land and Development Minister, Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam and Perwaja CEO, Tan Sri Eric Chia collapsing into acquitals for all the accused.

We call upon the Attorney-General's office to utilise its best resources to prosecute those deemed guilty of bring the Government into disrepute, especially in this PKFZ “mother of all scandals” which has brought not only billions of losses to Malaysians but is also the epitome of shame and embarrassment in our fight against corruption.

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