SEREMBAN (April 5): Muhammad Faisal Hamzah, the son of opposition leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, was charged in the Sessions Court here on Wednesday (April 5) with nine counts of violations in relation to the cooking oil subsidy.
Faisal, 39, was charged along with Azizul Abdul Halim, 55, both being directors of Rimba Merpati Sdn Bhd, a wholesale cooking oil licence holder, with allegedly providing false information by producing fake invoices on the purported sale of the oil to two local retail companies.
This purportedly violated Section 8(4) of the Control of Supplies Act 1961.
Cooking oil is a controlled item under the Act.
The invoices were deemed fake following a raid conducted on the company's premises last Aug 11 and 12.
The invoices were addressed to Warisan Hasil Alam, and Pasar Segar Din Maju.
The duo were also jointly charged by Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living enforcement officers with possession of more than the limited amount of 50 metric tons of cooking oil on the Rimba Merpati premises in Sinar Andalas, Senawang.
The said offence is a violation of Regulation 9(1) of the Control of Supplies Regulations 1974, which is punishable under Section 22(2) of the Control of Supplies Act.
The charges in question were separately made against Rimba Merpati, with Faisal and Azizul jointly charged as two directors of the company, as well as individually as a director with the offences. They claimed trial to the charges read to them for themselves and the company.
Should the company be found guilty of the said offences, it is liable to a maximum fine of RM2 million for the first offence, or a RM5 million fine for the second or subsequent offences, for the fake invoices and possession of more than the limited amount of 50 metric tons of cooking oil.
Separately, the duo as joint directors of the company and separately as an individual company director are liable to a fine of RM1 million or a maximum three years in jail for each charge for the first offence, or a RM3 million fine or five years in jail for subsequent offences, over the fake declarations and possession of more than the limited amount of 50 metric tons of cooking oil.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Sophian Zakaria, who appeared with DPP Syazwani Zawawi, asked the court to set bail at RM20,000 for each charge, as he pointed out that cooking oil is a controlled item, and that this is a case of public interest.
“The government of today has brought emphasis to items listed as controlled items, as the shortage of cooking oil at that time resulted in the country facing a crisis.
“Furthermore, a high bail amount should be set to secure attendance, regardless of whether the company is dissolved or undergoes a change of ownership. The volume involved was also quite big,” Sophian added.
Lawyer Queratu Aini Zafieah Mat Shoib, who represented the duo, asked for a reduction in the bail amount, as the court should not consider the amount of charges in imposing the high bail amount.
Furthermore, she said, Azizul is now unemployed and resides in Kuantan, while Faisal is in Bukit Antarabangsa and has three children, and is expecting a fourth child.
She added that the bail amount is only for securing attendance, and brought to the court’s attention that the said company is under new management.
After a short recess, Sessions Court judge Mazni Nawi fixed bail at RM25,000 each for Azizul and Faisal, and an additional RM30,000 for Rimba Merpati, which is also to be paid by the duo.
Mazni fixed June 9 for mention.
Hamzah was formerly the home minister during the Perikatan Nasional administration, and was the domestic trade and consumer affairs minister during the Barisan Nasional government prior to that from July 2015 to May 2018.
It is understood that Faisal is Hamzah’s son from his first marriage.