SHAH ALAM, Dec 13 — Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli insisted in the Sessions Court today that his controversial 2012 news conference about the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd’s (NFCorp) was only a public inquiry.
On trial for releasing confidential information, the federal Opposition lawmaker said his March 7 press conference five years ago was not aimed at establishing any fact against the company which was then under the spotlight for alleged financial misappropriation.
“It was a question and to get answers from NFC and the authorities, so the money that is still in NFC’s control is not exposed to risks.
“Even if not spent to buy personal assets, but it can still be used to get facilities because NFC had access and control to a huge sum of fund which is not theirs,” Rafizi said under cross-examination by his defence counsel Ahmad Nizam Abd Hamid.
Nizam asked Rafizi to state if his press conference on that date was held to state a fact on the alleged swindling of the RM250 million fund by NFCorp, or as a mere public enquiry to obtain details.
The PKR vice-president said that it has always been his practice to first try and verify documents alleging misdeeds that were sent to him through his National Oversight and Whistleblowers Centre (NOW), failing which, he would then resort to hold a press conference to demand answers from concerned parties.
Rafizi also agreed to a question from his lawyer that he did not know the authenticity of the banking documents he had been presented with, nor their origin.
However, he said that in the case of NFCorp, he had been careful not to disclose information he had obtained to anyone else.
Rafizi also told the court that he is aware of his responsibility to report potential misappropriation cases to authorities.
However, he added that he was frustrated that such cases which he claimed had a significant number of, have been hidden from public sight.
“So, the responsibility falls on civil servants and politicians like me,” he told the court.
Rafizi was charged on August 1, 2012 under Section 97(1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) with releasing confidential banking details on the NFCorp, the National Meat and Livestock Sdn Bhd, the Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd and NFCorp owner and Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail to media consultant Yusof Abdul and journalist Erle Martin Carvalho, at the PKR headquarters during the March 7, 2012 press conference.
Former Public Bank clerk Johari Mohamad was also charged with abetting Rafizi, under Section 112(1)(C) of the same Act.
Both men can be punished with a maximum three-year jail term or maximum RM3 million fine or both, if found guilty.
On October 25, the Sessions Court here ruled that the prosecution had proved a prima facie case against Rafizi and ordered him to enter his defence.
Rafizi and Johari were crossed examined by their lawyers Ahmad Nizam and Mohd Falihin Kamil Mohd Sazali, and Latheeya Koya, respectively, while Lailawati Ali and Steve Chin, prosecuted.
Sessions Court judge Zamri Bakar fixed February 7, 2018, for decision.