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12 Jun, 2012

Cleared of Trumped Up Graft Charges, Tourism Malaysia Chief Returns to Work


KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 (Bernama and Malaysian media reports) — Datuk Mirza Mohammd Taiyab Beg has returned to duty, as Tourism Malaysia director-general, effective June 11, the tourism promotion agency said in a statement. The decision for Mirza’s return was made by the disciplinary board of Tourism Malaysia following his acquittal by the Sessions Court, said the statement.

Mirza, 56, was acquitted and discharged by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court here on May 17 of criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving RM888,000 five years ago. Sessions Judge Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Mirza, and acquitted him without calling for his defence.

Also acquitted of the same charge was former Pembangunan Pelancongan Malaysia Berhad (Pempena) Sdn Bhd chief operations officer (COO) Mohammad Rosly Md Selamat.

Mirza and Rosly were alleged to have approved the monies as payment to LCL Interior LCL Dubai’s account at Mashreq Bank in Dubai for the purpose of setting up a Malaysian restaurant there, when terms for the project were allegedly not fulfilled. The prosecution had called 13 witnesses.

Judge Zulkifly, in his brief judgment, said in order to prove the case, the prosecution needed to establish that the approval by the accused for payment made to LCL Interior had violated the law or contract. He said, in the present case, both the accused did not breach any contract.

The judge said, based on the evidence, there were only two remittance acknowledgements which were signed by the two accused on Jan 26, 2007. “The date on the charge is vague,” he said.

Deputy public prosecutor Azlina Rasdi prosecuted while Mirza was represented by counsel Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman and Datuk Saseedharan Menon. Counsel Rejinder Singh acted for Rosly.

This is the second time Mirza has been cleared of corruption. On July 25 2009, the Sessions Court had acquitted Mirza of charges that he accepted RM13,860 in dental treatment from a director of a consulting company despite knowing the company had dealings with him as the director-general of Tourism Malaysia.

“I am very happy. And, I thank God for the verdict,” Mirza said, adding that he was also grateful to his supportive family who had stood by him and his lawyers.

Mirza has always maintained his innocence, insisting that the charges had been trumped up in order to get him out of office, because he was trying to stop corruption in the organisation.