KUALA LUMPUR — The Kuala Lumpur High Court heard Friday that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) then strategy director Rafizi Ramli had received confidential banking information of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), its group of companies, chairman and its directors from a Public Bank Berhad officer.
Rafizi made this revelation in his testimony before judicial commissioner Azizul Azmi Adnan when asked by Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail’s counsel Datuk M David Morais.
Cautioned on his statement twice by Morais, Rafizi testified that he had first received an envelope at his office that contained the confidential banking information. About a month or so later, he then received a late night missed call that he returned and subsequently discovered that the confidential banking information was from a Public Bank Berhad officer named Johari Mohammad.
“I only know the so-called person who obtained this much later when I got a call that he was apprehended by Public Bank’s internal department,” testified Rafizi.
Rafizi also added that Johari had also sent him an SMS to introduce himself.
“The only conversation I had so far was that well, Johari was the officer of Public Bank and he obtained it.”
Prior to the introduction, Rafizi had used the confidential banking information to stage a news conference on 7 March 2012 to reveal the information in connection to Dr. Salleh’s personal investment.
Rafizi testified that he believed the documents to be genuine, saying that he relied on his vast experience in interpreting such banking information.
He also confirmed that he had presented the confidential banking information from Public Bank as documentary evidence at his news conference to support his allegations.
Morais then took Rafizi to task on how the documents could have been authentic when it was merely deposited at his door and that it had not been verified, considering that Rafizi was an auditor and a politician to be taken seriously on public accountability.
The plaintiffs have pleaded that as a result Salleh was charged by the Attorney General; that Salleh’s wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, a Federal Cabinet minister had had to resign; and that the revelations had caused losses, and put in abeyance the National Feedlot project.
MKini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, publisher of the Internet news portal MalaysiaKini was also named in the suit for having broadcast and published the revelations and slanders.
In the cross examination by Morais, Rafizi testified that he had since November 2011 issued 47 press statements in connection with NFCorp. Morais suggested that these statements were politically motivated as the majority had referenced Salleh’s wife, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, a Federal Cabinet minister at that time.
Despite Rafizi denying any malice, Morais quoted more than a dozen statements tendered in court that incorporated ‘Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’ and underscored how audiences would have perceived and reacted to the derogatory inferences.
Earlier in the week, Salleh had testified that twenty-five bank accounts and eight collateral accounts had been disclosed.
“Rafizi had no business to probe into my private banking information and to disclose it to the general public,” said Salleh.
What was worse was that Rafizi had fabricated lies that included the false allegation he was not able to repay non-existent loans for a year, said Salleh.
In their statement of claim, the plaintiffs have sought for general damages, exemplary damages, aggravated damages, interest, costs and other appropriate reliefs from the court. The suit is for damages suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the lies, distortions, misrepresentations and fabrications, and the subsequent slander by the defendants.
NFCorp and its chairman had filed the legal suit against Rafizi Ramli and MKini Dotcom Sdn Bhd in the High Court at Kuala Lumpur on 3 June 2013.
The plaintiffs are represented by counsels Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Datuk M David Morais, Al Firdaus Shahrul Naing, Sara Ann Chay Sue May and Syed Ismat Syed Muhamad.
Counsel Razlan Hadri acting for Rafizi told the court that Rafizi together with Public Bank clerk Johari have in a separate matter, been charged for breaching the Banking and Financial Institutions Act, 1989, (BAFIA).