A Public Bank employee was subjected to "unlawful interrogation" by his employers after allegations that he leaked the account details of National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) directors to PKR.
Johari Mohamad, who tendered his resignation from the Jinjang branch on May 2, has claimed that he was "grilled" by Public Bank and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) officers for more than a week before being issued a show-cause letter.
"Johari (centre in photo) was grilled in a serious manner for hours and hours...by his employers in which BNM officers were involved, (and was) deprived of assistance from his lawyer. This is entirely illegal," his lawyer N Surendran (left in photo) said today.
Surendran, who is PKR vice-president, said this also shows that the bank had taken action weeks prior to NFC's report to BNM against his client and Public Bank on April 30.
Asked by reporters if he is indeed the whistleblower, Johari initially said “No” and then, “No idea”, before Surendran said Johari cannot comment on this in order to avoid prejudicing his case.
Johari also claimed that he has never met NFC chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
“Whether whistleblower or not, the point is the authorities going after the person who revealed misappropriation of public funds of quarter of a million ringgit and that is wrong,” Surendran said.
“Drop the investigation against Johari immediately, because if he is the whistleblower he should be given an award. If not, it is highly improper investigation to intimidate (other) people at the bank.”
Johari, who worked as a bank clerk in the credit department for 17 years, was only issued a show-cause letter on April 12 after more than a week of interrogation.
He responded to this on April 16 and was given a notice of a domestic inquiry on April 24, for allegedly contravening Section 97 of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) 1987 involving the banking details of Mohamad Salleh (left) .
Other banking details allegedly leaked were that of Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd, National Meat and Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd and NFC - all owned by Mohamad Salleh and his family.
Johari said the domestic inquiry was on May 2, the same day he quit, but the outcome is still unknown.
He also said his mobile phone has been siezed by BNM for its probe and he is scheduled to give a statement to the central bank at 2pm today.
Malaysiakini has contacted Public Bank for a response.
'Cold-storaged due to vengeance'
The issue is believed to be related to claims by PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli on purchases in KL Eco City worth at least RM10 million, by Mohamad Salleh and his family.
According to Rafizi (right) , who was also at the press conference, Johari had quit because of pressure over the probe and the fact that he was being “cold-storaged” at work.
He said the move to go after Johari shows that the NFC is “pushing for innocent people to pay heavy penalties because they are suspected to have helped in the expose done on NFC's misappropriation of funds”.
He claimed Mohamad Salleh had made “multiple complaints and applied pressure to Public Bank and BNM” against Johari when he was supposed to be performing the umrah in Mecca.
Mohamad Salleh's passport had been surrendered to the court after he claimed trial to criminal breach of trust and contravening the Companies Act, but the document was returned to enable him to travel, including to Mecca, from April 28 to May 5.
“If we don't warn him now, Mohamad Salleh will go on a rampage and persecute almost everyone he suspects, and with his strong cables will use his influence to pressure public institutions,” Rafizi alleged.
Accusing Mohamad Salleh of acting with vengeance, Rafizi said his exposes on NFC were done with the help of a number of whistleblowers.
He said the PKR will extend full legal assistance to Johari and all individuals persecuted by NFC or its directors.
“We will also assist him in terms of employment,” he added.
NFC was granted the National Feedlot Project in Gemas and was given a RM250 million government soft loan, but the auditor-general found that the project is not meeting its targets.