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Malaysia’s ex-navy chief pleads not guilty to charges linked to warship deal

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – Former managing director of Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to three charges of criminal breach of trust over the littoral combatant ship (LCS) scandal.

The 78-year-old was alleged to have authorised payments totalling more than MYR21 million (USD4.7 million) to three companies without the approval of the BNS’ Board of Directors. Ahmad Ramli, who was commander of the Malaysian Royal Navy from 1996 to 1998, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

“I understand (the charges), I plead not guilty and claim trial,” Ahmad Ramli was quoted by Bernama as saying.

On the first charge, he was alleged to have approved a payment of about MYR13.5 million to Syarikat Setaria Holding Limited between July 26, 2010 and March 25, 2011. On the second charge, Ahmad Ramli was alleged to have approved a payment of about MYR1.4 million to JSD Corporation between April 19, 2011 and May 4, 2011.

He is also accused of a similar offence in a payment involving nearly MYR6.2 million, to Syarikat Sousmarin Armada Ltd between October 28, 2010 and November 22, 2010.

A littoral combatant ship under construction at the Boustead naval shipyard in Lumut, Perak. PHOTO: CNA

Ahmad Ramli was allowed bail of MYR500,000 with a paid surety of MYR200,000 for all charges. The court also set November 24 for the case to be mentioned.

The Malaysian Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee tabled a report earlier this month on the procurement of littoral combatant ships, two years after starting a probe into the MYR9.13 billion contract.

The committee said the project to construct six ships was awarded by the Ministry of Defence to BNS through direct negotiation, and the government has paid MYR6.08 billion or 66.65 per cent of the cost so far.

Five should have been handed over to the navy by this month, but none has been delivered.

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