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Saturday, March 21, 2009

> Court to hear UMNO case

The Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday would hear Umno’s application against a multi-million ringgit suit by election paraphernalia supplier Elegant Advisory Sdn Bhd.

Revealing this at a press conference in Ulu Kelang today, Elegant Advisory counsel Ahmad Termizi Abdullah said the submissions would take place in chambers.

In a written statement distributed during the press conference, Elegant Advisory management director Samsudin Ibrahim said if no settlement is reached, the matter would be referred to the open court.         

“This case is still pending at the court and Elegant Advisory will proceed accordingly until such settlement has been paid by Umno or by way of an out of court settlement,” he said. 

The hearing on Monday is potentially embarrassing for Umno as it is held on the eve of the party’s annual assembly. 

Elegant Advisory is suing Umno for RM218,013,475 in outstanding payments for campaign materials prepared for the 2004 general election. 

The matter came to light three-months after the 2004 general elections in a series of exclusive reports by Malaysiakini.

'Umno diverting public attention'

After several years of haggling to no avail, Elegant Advisory eventually filed the suit on June 23 last year, naming Umno and its treasurer Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi as defendants. 

On July 21, Elegant Advisory won the case by default as Umno had failed to appear before the court, making it the highest sum the party had ever been asked to pay.

Elegant Advisory’s victory was short-lived as Umno's lawyers managed to get the Kuala Lumpur High Court to set aside the earlier order on Jan 21 on grounds that the suit was filed to the wrong parties.

"This is only a technical requirement which has been highlighted by Umno in order to divert public interest on the actual merit of the case,” said Samsudin in his press statement

According to Ahmad Termizi, the same court would be hearing an application by Elegant Advisory to amend the names of the defendants on April 8.

During the press conference, Ahmad Termizi also showed reporters a video-clip depicting large amounts of campaign material being prepared by Elegant Advisory staff. 

The campaign materials bore the Barisan Nasional logo and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s picture. 

Ahmad Termizi said the video clip was to illustrate to the media the large quantities of election material prepared. He added that it may be tendered as evidence at a later stage.

'Umno is not involved'

In an immediate response, Umno secretary general Tengku Adnan Mansor dismissed claims by the company that the party had cheated them.

"The company that wants to sue Umno, I think there is something wrong with this particular person. We are in no way involved in any transaction of campaigning material from them.

"We learnt that there is an element of fraud involved. Somebody cheated somebody and used Umno's name," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

According to Tengku Adnan, the company sent some of the materials to several party division offices but these were 'faulty'.

"These things were faulty and they had it rubber stamped and claimed that Umno had ordered them. When asked for clarification, the company said the items are 'underwater'. We don't even know what this 'underwater' means.

"There is not even any contract, no (documents of) purchase order. Never have I heard of anyone ordering campaigning material worth RM200 million. Somebody got conned," he said.

He further said the whole fiasco was just an attempt by someone to tarnish the party's reputation and claimed that the matter "has nothing to do with Umno." - Malaysiakini.