Thursday 30 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 15): MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki has called whistleblower K Lalitha's employment history and her ability as an investigative reporter into question.

Azam raised these issues in his reply to her statement of defence filed Tuesday (Feb 15) over a report written by her over his 2015 purchase of shares that was carried by the outlet Independent News Service (INS).

He said Lalitha claimed that she worked with Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) in her statement of defence filed on Feb 3 this year but the center had made statements to the contrary on Jan 14 this year.

This he said was an attempt to mislead the court.

C4 Center had earlier released a statement to clarify that Lalitha had ceased to be an employee of the center since December 2020 and that she is an independent journalist and consultant.

They added that they were not linked to her work with INS.

In his reply filed on Tuesday at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, Azam pointed to this as among the reasons to question Lalitha's ability as an "investigative reporter".

He is suing Lalitha over two articles titled "Business Ties Among MACC Leadership: How Deep Does It Go? (Part 1)" and "Business Ties Among MACC Leadership: How Deep Does It Go? (Part Two)" that were published on INS on Oct 26 and republished on Dec 15 last year.

In her statement of defence (filed on Feb 3), she claimed that her sources for the reports were reliable and credible.

Azam claimed that the reports were "sensational, scandalous and offensive and were written and republished with malicious intent to give a bad perception to the readers that the plaintiff was a corrupt civil servant or one who has abused his position as a senior MACC official for his or his sibling’s interests".

He claimed that the reports have tarnished his reputation and is asking that they cease to be republished, for the articles to be deleted and an apology to be published in the media.

He is also seeking RM10 million in general damages, aggravated damages, interest, costs and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

In a press conference on Jan 5 addressing the allegations, Azam said his share trading account had been used by his younger brother to purchase shares in 2015.

The following day, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) said it would conduct an inquiry into the matter and subsequently appeared to clear him of any offence on Jan 18.

The SC said it could not conclusively establish if he had breached Section 25(4) of the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act 1991 (SICDA), which provides that a trading account must be opened in the name of the beneficial owner or authorised nominee.

Edited ByPauline Ng
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