KUALA LUMPUR: Corporate figure Datuk Hamid Man and his partner, who had been staring at a court order to pay a staggering RM848.14 million to a timber company over the revoking of an approval for a project to supply raw acacia wood, experienced a turnaround of fortune yesterday.
The Court of Appeal has set aside the High Court judgment of April 9, 2010, that compelled timber logging company directors Hamid Man, 68, and Abu Bakar Rahmat, 49, to pay the amount to Kaohsiung Timber Products Sdn. Bhd (KTP).
Both directors of timber logging entity Anjakan Wawasan Sdn Bhd (AWSB) had 14 days then to pay KTP RM748,144,000 in general damages and future loss of income and RM100,000,000 in specific damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages.
The damages related to alleged fraud and conspiracy by Hamid and Abu Bakar in a business deal involving the supply of raw acacia wood in Kamasul, Pahang.
They were alleged to have interfered with the contract or business.
The men then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal against then Shah Alam judicial commissioner Datuk Zaleha Yusof's decision to strike off the defence.
Since then, the five-yearold case has had several twists, including a "suspicious" High Court judgment ordering both men to pay RM848.14 million to KTP.
The appellants' counsel, Datuk Haaziq Pillay, said the Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that the High Court judge had erred in striking out the appellants' defence.
He said the court held the defence was sustainable and had to be reinstated.
The matter has been remitted back to the High Court in Shah Alam for case management on June 29, he said.
Haaziq and Nizam Bashir represented the appellants while Muhd Azmi Talib, Yusfarizal Yusoff, Majdah Muda and Wan Rohimi acted for the respondents.
* In 2007, Kaohsiung Timber Products Sdn Bhd (KTP) filed a suit against Hamid Man, 69, and Abu Bakar Rahmat, 50, claiming the duo had sabotaged the company undertaking an acacia raw wood supply project involving 40,000ha of land in the district of Kamasul, Pahang.
* KTP filed the suit against Hamid and Abu Bakar to demand a total of RM848,144,000 in damages, comprising future loss in income, general damages, specific damages, aggravated damages, exemplary damages, costs as well as other relief deemed fit by the court.
* In its statement of claim, KTP alleged that in March 2001, the company had appointed the two defendants to represent KTP in making an official application to the Pahang government.
* KTP further claimed that under the terms of appointment, the duo agreed to allow their names to be used by the company in the official dealings with the state government and the relevant authorities and had also pledged to act in the interest of the company until the approval was obtained.
* On March 14, 2001, the company said Hamid, acting as the chairman of KTP, had written to the Pahang Menteri Besar to get approval for the project.
* However, the company claimed, unknown to it, the duo had set up another timber logging company named Anjakan Wawasan Sdn Bhd (AWSB) on March 30, 2001, in which they were directors.
* KTP added that on June 27, 2001, the Pahang Forestry Department replied to the March 14, 2001, letter stating that the Pahang government had agreed to approve 4,048ha for the project and would follow up the matter with contract signing, accordingly.
* The plaintiff claimed this approval was a big boost for its reputation and that the project promised lucrative returns.
* KTP said following the approval of the project, the company and the two defendants drew up an agreement on Aug 23, 2001 so that each would get an equal share of the project.
* However, unknown to KTP, the two defendants continued to remain as directors of AWSB, and on Feb 18, 2002, Hamid with the tacit support of Abu Bakar, made a written objection to the Forestry Department over the awarding of the project (to KTP), KTP said.
* KTP said the letter cast negative aspersions on it resulting in the department, on Aug 20, 2003, revoking approval of the project to it and instead awarding it to AWSB.
* KTP further said it only came to know about the deceit later but the net result of the revocation of the approval was that it suffered huge losses after having come up with quite a lot of capital for the venture, which culminated in it being forced to wind up on July, 4 2006.
* On April 9, 2007, the plaintiff, however, obtained sanction from the receivers to commence the suit against the two defendants.
* Hamid and Abu Bakar in their defence said a settlement had been reached in which the plaintiff had received 500 acres of the project area awarded to AWSB.