11 July 2013

Putrajaya is confident of recovering an outstanding RM70 million from a RM250 million soft loan for the scandal-hit National Feedlot Centre (NFC), Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said today.

But he told parliament today it would take some time to get back the money as it involved technical matters.

Husni also said a Malaysian-Japanese joint-venture is negotiating now to take over the project and has pledged to pay all outstanding debts incurred by the project manager National Feedlot Corporation (NFC).

He said Kirimitonas Agro Sdn Bhd had signed a letter of intent to take over the project in April and negotiation would take six months.

However, the minister admitted not knowing how the company plans recoup the money used to pay off NFC's debts, saying that more negotiations need to take place before their intent is clear.

He told this to Pandan MP Mohd Rafizi Ramli who had grilled him over the recovery of the  RM250 million soft loan to the NFC.

The Finance Minister told the house RM180 from the soft loan had been recovered.

Rafizi asked Husni: “What happened to the balance RM70 million from the RM250 million given to the NFC?”

"Has it been written off just like that? What is the government doing to recover the RM70million?" asked Rafizi.

The RM250 million soft loan was given to NFCorp, which was owned by Shahrizat's husband Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail and their three children, as the then Abdullah administration pushed for Malaysia's food security with beef seen as a strategic commodity.

The project's financial viability came to question when the 2011 Auditor-General's Report indicated several delays were affecting the progress in the 1,500-hectare farm which was fully operational although there were not enough cattle being raised for optimum production.

Opposition lawmakers latched on the audit report and made revelations that were denied by the company.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak then announced in January 2012 that NFCorp's assets have been frozen while the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigated alleged financial abuse in the company.

The police and MACC investigations centred on possible criminal breach of trust following allegations that at least RM27 million in project funds were used to purchase land and property in Singapore and Kazakhstan unrelated to cattle farming.

On March 12, 2012, Dr Mohamad Salleh claimed trial to dishonestly misusing funds amounting to RM9,758,140 through four cheques to partly finance the purchase of two units of One Menerung Condominium in Block B in Kuala Lumpur's upscale Bangsar, for the National Meat and Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd, which he owns with one of his sons.

The scandal also cost Shahrizat her job as the Woman and Family Development Minister by end March 2012 as Najib did not renew her senatorship.

She did not contest in Election 2013 but remains Wanita Umno chief.- July 11, 2013.


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