PETALING JAYA: PKR leaders continued their attack on Putrajaya's out-of-court settlement with former Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman Tajudin Ramli which they said may have been due to his powerful connections with the country's top leaders.
Subang MP R Sivarasa suggested that the lack of criminal charges against Tajudin despite several complaints of graft against him suggested that he has a grip on "someone powerful" in the government.
"Who is this person who is so powerful in the Malaysian government that Tajudin is able to squeeze so hard that he can do all this?"
Tajudin was accused of corruption in the MASKargo fiasco in 2007 that saw the national carrier subsidiary losing money because of a dubious move to shift its already strategic operating location to an allegedly non-profitable one.
Several police reports and a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission report had been lodged against him by the senior management of MASKargo.
Until now, no action has been taken against the former MAS chief who was considered as the poster boy of then finance minister Daim Zainuddin's policies on nurturing Malay corporate leaders.
The Subang MP also said the out-of-court settlement between government-owned Danaharta and Tajudin again paved the way for the latter to walk free despite the serious legal violation when he failed to repay federal loan.
The case between Danaharta and Tajudin arose after he executed a facility agreement on July 13, 1994 to borrow RM1.79 billion from a group of syndicated lenders to finance his purchase of a 32 per cent stake in MAS.
However, from 1994 to 1998 he failed to service the original loan, causing it to become a non-performing loan (NPL).
"Again we see the same scenario where those close to the government escape punishment despite the blatant abuses," Sivarasa remarked.
Nazri and Idris must settle
In 1998, Danaharta acquired the NPL from the lenders but Tajudin also failed to settle his debt to Danaharta until it was in default of RM1.41 billion as at Oct 8, 2001.
As part of a settlement agreement, Tajudin was to pay RM942 million in four installments over three years and that he was permitted to redeem his charged shares at a minimum price per share.
Tajudin, however, defaulted in the payment of the quarterly interest payable under the settlement agreement and on April 27, 2002, the plaintiffs terminated the settlement agreement and demanded RM1.61 billion from him.
On April 29, 2002, Danaharta, together with its units Danaharta Urus Sdn Bhd and Danaharta Managers Sdn Bhd sold part of the charged shares consisting entirely of Technology Resources Industries (TRI) shares at RM2.75 per share, resulting in total proceeds of RM717.39 million.
As at Dec 31, 2005, the amount outstanding was RM589.14 million and on May 11, 2006, Danaharta and the subsidiaries commenced action to recover the money.
Tajudin had alleged in his affidavit that it was former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Daim who directed him in 1994 to buy a controlling stake in MAS to bail out the government although both denied this.
The Najib administration had recently said it had settled its legal dispute with the former MAS chief out of court.
Sivarasa said two ministers from the Prime Minister's Department, Idris Jala and Nazri Abdul Aziz, should explain to the public on Putrajaya's leniency towards Tajudin.
While Nazri had been vocal in defending the move, the PKR leader said Idris's takeover as MAS chief in 2007 could help shed some light into the controversy.
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