Boustead denies allegations in relation to RM676m suit

By MARK RAO

BOUSTEAD Holdings Bhd has deemed the suit it is facing in regard to the RM640 million sale of 90ha of land in Kapar, Selangor as “untenable” and that the allegations are “baseless”.

The company’s statement was made in response to the writ of summons filed on Oct 12 by Deepak Jaikishan who had alleged that Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak alongside other parties used undue influence and engaged in conspiracy to force the plaintiff to sell the land in question.

The suit had named the former prime minister and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor as the first and second defendants respectively, while Boustead and its wholly owned unit, Bakti Wira Development Sdn Bhd, are the third and fourth defendants respectively.

Boustead said both the company and Bakti Wira “categorically” deny the allegations made by the plaintiff. “The allegations are baseless, frivolous, vexatious and unjustifiable,” it said in an exchange filing yesterday.

“The companies have at all times observed good corporate governance and ethical business practices in the companies’ dealings and had given due commercial considerations before entering into the transactions mentioned in the plaintiff’s statement of claims.”

It added that both Boustead and Bakti Wira’s directors believe that the plaintiff’s claims are untenable and are positive that they will prevail in the litigation.

In June 2007, Jaikishan’s company Astacanggih Sdn Bhd was offered to buy the Kapar land for RM118.5 million from Awan Megah Sdn Bhd.

Awan Megah was meant to construct a RM100 million National Defence Study Centre at the site.

Jaikishan was a minority shareholder in the company, while defendant Najib, was the defence minister at the material time.

The plaintiff said Raja Ropiaah Abdullah — former Selangor Wanita Umno chief and the majority owner of Awan Megah — later breached the agreement to provide his company Astacanggih the land title.

He claimed that he was forced to withdraw his suit in 2011 against Raja Ropiaah after being pressured by the authorities, adding that Najib promised to compensate him via Boustead.

Boustead is majority-owned by the government body, Armed Forces Fund Board. In Dec 27, 2012, Bakti Wira bought the plaintiff’s 80% stake in Astacanggih for RM30 million.

The deal also saw the Boustead unit agreeing to acquire the Kapar land from Awan Megah.

Jaikishan said Boustead and UMW Holdings Bhd entered into a separate agreement a week after selling a portion of the land for RM640 million — substantially higher than its RM130 million market value at the time.

In the writ of summons, the plaintiff is seeking RM600 million in general damages, RM50 million in exemplary damages and RM26 million in aggravated damages.

He is also seeking an interest of 5% per annum on each of the damages sought and special damages equivalent to 80% of the current market of certain pieces of land alongside the return of his shares in Astacanggih.

The case management has been fixed on Nov 14 this year.