October 29, 2012
Putrajaya says determined to recover NFC funds
by Clara Chooi @http://www.themalaysianinsider.com
Putrajaya said today it is determined to recover monies lost in the RM250 million National Feedlot Centre (NFC) project, the controversial cattle-farming scheme that hit media headlines last year after it was highlighted for mismanagement in the Auditor-General’s Report 2010.
Responding to several opposition lawmakers in the Dewan Rakyat here, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar said discussions were still ongoing between the government and several companies on the best option that would ensure the government recovers the federal soft loan.
“We want to take over the management (of the NFC) and most importantly, we want to recover the government’s money,” he told the House.
Noh said the Najib Cabinet had elected Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to lead the discussions, adding that it was imperative that the federal cattle-farming scheme survives as it is an important project for the country’s future.
He stressed that despite the issues surrounding the NFC, the scheme is still operational with some 12,000 cattle reared at 38 out of 57 satellite farms.
When questioned on the financial assets of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), however, the firm in the centre of the scandal, the minister pointed out to Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR-Ampang) that the matter was still in the courts.
“I cannot say any more, except that the firm did ask to lift the freeze on its assets… but this could not be approved,” he said.
PKR’s Rafizi Ramli recently said that Putrajaya was unlikely to see the return of the RM250 million in public funds lent to NFCorp even if it initiates a civil suit against the company.
The firm, owned by the family members of former minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and picked to run the NFC cattle-farming project, hit the headlines last year when the Auditor-General in his 2010 report stated that it had missed production targets.
The Opposition Party’s strategy chief, who spearheaded corruption allegations against the company over the project, pointed out that the Auditor-General had in his 2011 report tabled this week in Parliament recommended legal action against NFCorp to claim back public money owed.
He claimed that it was the other companies fully-owned by Shahrizat’s family which had nothing to do with the national feedlot project and not NFCorp that had allegedly embezzled and bought luxury assets.
The Opposition had alleged that NFCorp directors used the loan meant for a federal cattle-farming scheme to buy or finance properties in Kazakhstan and Singapore worth at least RM45 million, and to siphon out at least RM12 million to their own companies in the island state.
PKR had also accused NFCorp of “hunting down” alleged whistleblowers to “put the lid on” claims the company abused the RM250 million federal loan to finance property, luxury cars and expenses unrelated to cattle farming.
Shahrizat, who had headed the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry when the project was awarded to her family in 2006, relinquished her Cabinet post in early April over the allegations against her family.