Malaysian court sentences former minister to jail for bribery over Sarawak hotel purchase

Edited photo of Isa Samad against the Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching, Sarawak. Photo: Coconuts
Edited photo of Isa Samad against the Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching, Sarawak. Photo: Coconuts

Former Federal Territories Minister Isa Abdul Samad was fined and sentenced to six years’ jail today after the judge found him guilty of pocketing more than RM3 million (more than US$700,000) linked to the purchase of a hotel in Sarawak. 

The 71-year-old was convicted on nine counts of graft linked to the purchase of the Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites in Kuching. Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said that Isa’s defense failed to raise doubt in the case. Isa was also fined RM15.4 million. 

“The defence has failed to raise reasonable doubt and the prosecution has managed to prove their case as stated in all nine charges,” the judge said. “With that, this court finds the accused guilty and is convicted for all the nine charges under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act.”

The verdict and sentencing came three years after Isa was charged for dishonestly receiving graft in cash amounting to RM3,090,000 from Ikhwan Zaidel, who was sitting on the board of directors of property developer Gegasan Abadi Properties, which used to own the four-star hotel. 

Isa had committed the offense while he was the chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority, or FELDA, at the Felda Tower between July 2014 and December 2015. He did so after approving the purchase of the hotel at RM160 million, which was twice the market price at the time. 

Isa was minister for federal territories for a year, from 2004 to 2005. He helmed FELDA from 2011 to 2017. 

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