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Malaysia’s ex-navy chief pleads not guilty to charges linked to warship deal

Former managing director of Boustead Naval Shipyard, Ahmad Ramli, was alleged to have authorised payments of more than RM21 million to three companies without the board of directors' approval. 

Malaysia’s ex-navy chief pleads not guilty to charges linked to warship deal

File photo of an older littoral combat ship, the Maharaja Lela, at a naval shipyard in Lumut, Perak in 2017. (Photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: Former managing director of Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor on Tuesday (Aug 16) pleaded not guilty to three charges of criminal breach of trust over the littoral combatant ship (LCS) scandal.

The 78-year-old, who used to be Malaysia's navy chief, was alleged to have authorised payments totalling more than RM21 million (US$4.7 million) to three companies without the approval of the BNS' board of directors.

According to the charge sheet, all the payments were made to the companies’ bank accounts in Singapore.

Ahmad Ramli, who was commander of the Malaysian Royal Navy from 1996 to 1998, pleaded not guilty to all the charges read out before Judge Suzana Hussin.

"I understand (the charges), I plead not guilty and claim trial,” Ahmad Ramli was quoted by Bernama as saying.

On the first charge, he was alleged to have approved a payment of about RM13.5 million to Syarikat Setaria Holding Limited between Jul 26, 2010 and Mar 25, 2011.

On the second charge, Ahmad Ramli was alleged to have approved a payment of about RM1.4 million to JSD Corporation between Apr 19, 2011 and May 4, 2011.

He is also accused of another similar offence in a payment involving nearly RM6.2 million, to Syarikat Sousmarin Armada Ltd between Oct 28, 2010 and Nov 22, 2010.

Bernama reported that the three charges come under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years with whipping, and the possibility of a fine upon conviction.

Ahmad Ramli was allowed bail of RM500,000 with a paid surety of RM200,000 for all charges. The court also set Nov 24 for the case to be mentioned. 

The Malaysian parliament's Public Accounts Committee tabled a report earlier this month on the procurement of littoral combatant ships, two years after starting a probe into the RM9.13 billion contract.

The committee said the project to construct six ships was awarded by the Ministry of Defence to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd through direct negotiation, and the government has paid RM6.08 billion or 66.65 per cent of the cost so far.

Five should have been handed over to the navy by this month, but none has been delivered.

Ahmad Ramli was charged following last week’s announcement by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) that it had completed its investigation against a number of individuals linked to alleged irregularities in the handling of the LCS construction project.

According to sources, more individuals are expected to be charged in court in connection with the project.

On Aug 10, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob promised that investigations will be carried out transparently and that the government will not protect anyone involved.

“The Cabinet has urged the MACC to expedite its investigations and if there is concrete proof, the attorney-general will have to charge those responsible and bring them to justice,” he said in a statement.

Mr Ismail Sabri added that he had contacted the attorney general Idrus Harun and MACC’s chief Azam Baki after the Cabinet meeting to act immediately in accordance with the decision of the meeting.

He also said that the government agreed to declassify a report on LCS prepared in 2019 by the Committee on Procurement, Governance and Finance as well as a forensic audit report. 

Source: CNA/ih(gr)


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