Shahrizat’s hubby charged with CBT in NFC scandal
He pleaded not guilty to the CBT charge as well two counts under the Companies Act in the scandal that has opened Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to damaging attacks ahead of elections expected soon.
The charges were read out to the NFCorp executive chairman as his wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil — who was forced to announce yesterday that she would relinquish her Cabinet post next month — sat two rows behind him together with relatives and supporters.
Only one of their three children — Izmir — was present in court.
The other two children — Izran and Izzana — who together with their brother, are directors of the company running the national cattle-farming project, were not present.
It is unclear if they will also face criminal charges.
Shahrizat said yesterday she would step down as minister for women, family and community development when her term as senator ends on April 8 after months of attacks from the opposition.
The authorities were forced by public anger as a result of allegations made by opposition politicians to investigate whether her family had used part of a RM250 million ringgit loan from the government to the NFCorp to buy condominiums both at home and abroad.
The scandal has highlighted the prime minister’s stuttering reform efforts and the decision to sacrifice Shahrizat politically is seen as a damage control exercise as Najib is expected to call elections within the next few months.
It is understood that Najib wants to call elections soon to take advantage of a recent spike in public approval ratings likely sparked by his decision to dish out direct aid to the public.
A looming global economic slowdown could jeopardise BN’s chances at the polls which must be called by early next year.
The NFCorp mess is not the first corruption scandal to hit Najib and Umno, but the farmyard connection makes it a potentially damaging one because many ordinary Malaysians have a better understanding of what allegedly transpired than more obscure financial matters.