Witness: Mirza knew about RM888,000 Awana Dubai deal

KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg, accused of committing criminal breach of trust, knew about the RM888,000 payment meant for the setting up of a Malaysian restaurant in Dubai.

The payment was made to LCL Interior Group and this fact was known to Pempena Sdn Bhd board of directors, of which Mirza was a member.

Testifying in Mirza’s CBT trial yesterday, Pempena executive vice-chairman Akit Sebli said that the board of directors in a meeting on Feb 22, 2007, had given the green light for Pempena to take up a joint venture with LCL Interior Group to open Restoran Malaysia Dubai, better known as Awana Dubai.

The venture cost RM3.06mil.

Pempena was to be a 45% shareholder, investing some RM1.63mil, said Akit during his examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Azlina Rasdi.

Mirza, 52, and former Pempena Sdn Bhd chief operations officer Mohammad Rosly Md Selamat, 56, were jointly charged on Aug 16 last year with committing CBT when they paid RM888,000 to LCL Interior, although the project did not fulfil the necessary requirements.

They were said to have committed the offence at the Pempena office at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Feb 27, 2007.

Representing Mirza was lawyer Sashi Menon, while lawyer Rejinder Singh stood for Mohammad Rosly.

When cross-examined by Sashi, Akit agreed that the payment made was under “operational cost”, which came under the purview of the senior management of Pempena.

Akit was also grilled about his handing-over notes (prior to retiring from his position) to the incoming chief executive officer of Pempena.

The notes were dated Aug 31, 2007.

Sashi: Is there anywhere in this document where it is stated that there was fraud, cheating, or anything like that on Awana Dubai?

Akit: No.

Sashi: So you agree with me that it is merely a trade debt and there is nothing else apart from it? There was no unlawful appropriation of funds. Agree?

Akit: I disagree.

Hearing before Sessions court judge Che Mohammad Zulkifly Jusoh continues.