A former Malaysian navy chief pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three counts of breach of trust in what the anti-corruption agency has identified as a stalled multi-billion ringgit project to build combat ships for the national fleet.
The charges against Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor, 79, who also served as the managing director of Boustead Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS), a Malaysian government-run shipbuilder, stemmed from alleged payments totaling 21 million ringgits (4 $.7 million) that were made to three Singapore-based companies without board approval.
“I understand [the charges], I plead not guilty and seek my trial,” Ahmad Ramli told Judge Suzana Hussin of the Kuala Lumpur Court of Sessions, according to a report by the official Bernama news agency. He was released on 500,000 ringgit ($112,000) bail and ordered to surrender his passport.
Ahmad Ramli reportedly approved 13.5 million ringgit ($3 million) to Setaria Holdings Ltd. without board approval between July 26, 2010 and March 25, 2011, according to the indictment. The second charge concerns an allegedly unapproved payment of 1.36 million ringgit ($304,500) to JSD Corp. Pte Ltd. between April 19, 2011 and May 4, 2011.
In the third charge, he allegedly approved a payment of 6.1 million ringgits ($1.3 million) to Submarin Armada Ltd. between October 28, 2010 and November 22, 2010.
None of the Singapore companies had any dealings with BNS, a source from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) told The Straits Times newspaper.
Ahmad Ramli was chief executive of the SNB during the period of payments and after serving as chief of the navy from October 1996 until his retirement in 1998, after a 35-year career in the Royal Malaysian Navy.
If found guilty, he could face two to 20 years in prison with a caning and a fine for each charge.
On Monday, MACC issued a statement alerting reporters to the legal action.
“This is to inform you that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has obtained permission to prosecute a former managing director of a company linked to the littoral combat vessel case,” the statement said.
In an earlier statement last week, MACC said it had completed its investigations into “a few individuals” linked to alleged irregularities in the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) construction project. He has submitted documents to the attorney general’s office “with a proposal from MACC to review the charges against several individuals”, and is awaiting instructions from the office.
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said those responsible should face criminal charges once enough evidence has been obtained. Meanwhile, members of his cabinet have called on MACC to speed up its investigation into delays in building the ships.
In 2011, BNS received an award letter from the Ministry of Defense to deliver six LCS as part of its fleet renewal plan, according to a report released by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee earlier this month. .
The 250-page report, which follows a two-year investigation, notes that a letter of intent for the project was drawn up in 2010, four years before the government awarded a contract to BNS for the six vessels , 9 billion ringgit ($2). billion) project – the largest defense contract in Malaysia’s history.
Released on August 4, the PAC report noted that while the Royal Malaysian Navy was due to receive five ships this month, none had been delivered to date despite government spending of 6 billion ringgit (1.36 billion dollars) for the project.