Rafizi Ramli’s BAFIA blunder will likely be his political downfall

RafiziRamliIt was almost forgotten that Bank Negara Malaysia and the police did a dawn raid on Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) secretary general Mohd Rafizi Ramli some three years ago. Rafizi was arrested and charged for contravening the provisions of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act, 1989 (BAFIA). The Pandan member of parliament was accused of leaking confidential banking information of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) to a roomful of news reporters. They were subsequently published and broadcast nationwide. The central bank was not amused at his expose antics.

After several failed attempts at appeals taken as high up to the Federal Court, the Sessions Court here Tuesday finally fixed April 27 for Rafizi’s trial to kick-off.

This may well be the beginning of the end of Rafizi Ramli’s political career.

The charge under Section 97(1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA) 1989, punishable under Section 103(1)(a) of the same Act, carries a maximum three years’ jail or RM3 million fine, or both, upon conviction.

A heavy conviction will result in Rafizi losing his Pandan seat.

Judge Rozina Ayob also set May 26, 27 and 28 for continuation of the hearing.

Mohd Rafizi, 38, was charged in August 2012 at the Shah Alam Sessions Court with revealing four Public Bank customer-profile documents to unauthorised individuals.

The documents comprised balance summaries relating to NFC, National Meat and Livestock Sdn Bhd, Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd and NFC chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail.

He allegedly committed the offence at the PKR’s headquarters at Merchant Square in Petaling Jaya on March 7, 2012.

Yesterday, the Federal Court dismissed Mohd Rafizi’s bid to strike out the charge; the court said it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case which had originated from the Sessions Court.

The politician had initially applied to the High Court to strike out the charge but failed in his bid when the court on Nov 23, 2013 rejected it.

He resorted to the Court of Appeal which on May 23, 2013 upheld the high court’s decision, ruling that the application had no merit.

Rafizi Ramli sued
In a separate case, NFCorp chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail and his group of companies are suing Rafizi Ramli for damages resulting from the dissemination of the confidential banking information. The matter is set for trial later this year.

Public Bank Berhad also sued
NFCorp, its related companies, its directors, including its chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail, are also suing Public Bank Berhad in another suit. They allege that Public Bank failed to protect the confidentiality of its customer accounts as promised in its bank charter, resulting in the detriment and collapse of their businesses.

The plaintiffs allege that PKR’s Rafizi Ramli had in a news conference on March 7, 2012, “lied, distorted and misrepresented to the media and the public” that 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. Rafizi had used Public Bank documents to smear Salleh and his companies.

No such loans were ever taken at the peril of the government loan deposit placed at Public Bank, the court was told. Neither did Public Bank deny the existence of such loans to curb the misreporting which resulted in more than 110 damaging news reports that emerged,

Bank clerk will also be charged for breach of BAFIA
Meanwhile, bank clerk Johari Mohamad, 44, is also accused of conspiring with Mohd Rafizi on the same date, at the same place.

The charge is under Section 112(1)(c) of the BAFIA, and punishable under Section 103 of the same Act.

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