Friday 24 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 9): Businessman Tan Sri Halim Saad has filed a suit against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and the federal government for losses that he suffered as a result of concerted efforts by the authorities to stop his bid to take over United Engineers Malaysia Bhd (UEM), which then owned prized assets including the North South Expressway’s toll concession.

This is Halim’s second attempt at legal action against the three parties for the same matter.

In 2013, he filed a RM1.8 billion civil suit against the government, Khazanah and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop after alleging he was cheated. He fought all the way to the Federal Court but lost in 2015.

For the latest suit, Halim in a statement said it was filed on August 2 and premised on the breach of his constitutional rights under Article 8(1) and Articles 13 (1) (2) of the Federal Constitution by the Malaysian government where upon the instructions of Dr Mahathir and Nor Mohamed — in his capacity as special economic adviser to Dr Mahathir — proceeded with the purchase of a 32.69% stake in Renong Bhd from UEM, a unit of Renong.

This, Halim added, is pursuant to the put option exercised by UEM in December 2000, giving Halim the right to buy the 32.6% stake in Renong from UEM for RM3.165 billion. 

The Renong shares would only be transferred to Halim upon full settlement. Halim claimed that he made the first payment of RM100 million to UEM on Feb 14, 2001 for the share purchase. An extension till Sept 12 was granted for the second instalment, as Halim needed more time to raise funds.

At the same time, Halim was also planning a bid to take UEM private. He claimed that he had acquired financing for the share purchase and the general offer to buyout UEM then.

According to the court document, Halim was summoned to meet Dr Mahathir, and subsequently Nor Mohamed on July 12, 2001.

Then, Halim alleged that he was directed not to execute his takeover plan and not to complete the purchase of UEM shares via the put option.

“In that regard, the plaintiff (Halim) was informed that Permodalan Nasional Bhd, a government-linked entity, would be directed to make a general offer on UEM and that the plaintiff would be required to exit from the UEM-Renong group. To that end, the plaintiff was required to support the said general offer on UEM by PNB,” the court document read.

According to Halim, he was required by Dr Mahathir and Nor Mohamed to support the government’s initiative to take over UEM.

The plan then was to have Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary Danasaham Sdn Bhd launch a voluntary general offer to buyout UEM — which then owned the toll concession of the North South Expressway plus construction business — via a general offer.

Halim claimed that the government’s bid to take UEM private would not have happened without his support, which he was obliged to provide.

“The collective and concerted actions of the defendants resulted in my loss of control of Renong which also meant the indirect loss of control of UEM and its highly valuable assets,” Halim said.

These assets included, he added, but not limited to, Projek Lebuhraya Utara Selatan (PLUS), Elite expressway, Laluan Kedua Malaysua (Linkedua) Intria Bina Sdn Bhd, Ho Hup Construction Sdn Bhd, Pharmaniaga Bhd and Kualiti Alam Sdn Bhd.

“I suffered financial losses as a direct result of the defendants’ action which constituted a breach of my constitutional rights under the constitution,” he added.

Article 8(1) stipulates that all persons are equal before the law, and entitled to the equal protection of the law while Article 13 (1) stipulates no person shall be deprived of property save in accordance with the law and (2) no law shall provide for the compulsory acquisition or use of property without adequate compensation.

Last May, there were reports that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had opened investigation papers into a RM2.3 billion transaction that took place in the late 1990s that was allegedly linked to a businessman and a former senior minister without naming the companies involved in the transaction.

A senior MACC source has confirmed with The Edge that the transaction was the purchase of a 32.6% stake in Renong Bhd by UEM for RM2.3 billion that occurred in November 1997 — in the middle of the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis.

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Edited ByKathy Fong
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