KUALA LUMPUR — The High Court at Kuala Lumpur before Justice Datuk John Louis O’Hara today heard that aside from a bank clerk from the Jinjang branch, four other bank employees from unrelated divisions at Public Bank Berhad had at about the same time snooped into the private bank accounts of National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp), its related companies, its directors including its chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
“Yang Arif. The opposition had consulted and verified with Public Bank on my confidential banking information many times, not once, not twice but three times,” said Datuk Salleh in his testimony today.
Datuk Salleh had made this discovery after investigations by the Director of IT at Public Bank had revealed that three officers from the PB Card Services and Support Division, the Labuan Branch, and Deposit and Channel Management at its headquarters, had pried into the Plaintiffs’ accounts. One other was from the headquarters that the bank’s mainframe system was unable to identify. These branches, departments and divisions had no connection to the plaintiffs who maintained their bank accounts at the Jalan Hang Lekiu branch.
“The leak and publication had angered the general public and alarmed the authorities. Five days later, I was charged and a further two days later, the authorities under AMLA seized my companies’ assets that were placed with Public Bank. The impact from the leak, news conference, news publication, charges and asset seizures, were also reported in more than 110 media publications. As a consequence, my thriving business at NFCorp and our group of companies, was crippled and collapsed.”
From his observations, NFCorp chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail added that the snoop tied in with the statement given by the opposition PKR MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli who in revealing the 21 bank accounts at a news conference on 7 March 2012, had repeatedly stated that he had verified with his sources at the said bank to confirm the authenticity of the confidential bank documents in his hands.
NFCorp, its related companies, its directors including its chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail are suing Public Bank Berhad for its failure to protect the confidentiality of its customer accounts and which had resulted in the detriment and collapse of the Plaintiffs’ businesses.
In using the leaked customer bank documents, Rafizi Ramli had lied, distorted and misrepresented to the media and the public that Datuk Salleh had taken eight bank loans for the purchase of properties at KL Eco City at the peril of a government loan deposit placed at Public Bank.
“If not for the leak of the confidential bank documents by Public Bank, the news conference of 7 March 2012 would not have been possible but for the bank’s breach of their duty of confidentiality owed to NFCorp and the Plaintiffs in this suit,” said Datuk Salleh.
Rafizi in using the bank documents had brazenly told the media that eight loans were taken and that Datuk Salleh had difficulty in servicing repayments of the loans, and that there was a likelihood that the government loan deposit placed at Public Bank would be compromised.
“The leak and news reports caused an uproar in irreparable public outrage.”
The truth of the matter Datuk Salleh told the court, is that no loans had been taken whatsoever from Public Bank for the purchase of the eight KL Eco City office lots claimed by the opposition.
“What made it even worse was Public Bank did not come out with a statement to clarify that no loans had been taken from them for the eight KL Eco City properties. Nor did they clarify to say that no loans were in jeopardy. Their continued silence on this false fabrication by the opposition to this day is deafening.”
Later, speaking to the media, counsel for the plaintiffs Tan Sri Dr Muhamad Shafee Abdullah said that he intended to subpoena the Chairman of Public Bank Berhad Tan Sri Datuk Seri Dr Teh Hong Piow to answer for the bank’s integrity and the breach of confidentiality in this matter.
Public Bank, said Tan Sri Shafee, was an award-winning bank which had claimed many accolades to its credit. How it failed to protect its customers’ confidential banking information from prying eyes and leaks, need to be answered.