TWO former top executives of Silver Bird Group Bhd may have been acquitted by the Court of Appeal (COA) last June on 134 counts of cheating and using forged documents to cheat Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) of almost RM67.4 million, but they are not totally off the hook yet.
Even though this was the prosecution’s final appeal, Datuk Jackson Tan Han Kook and Derec Ching Siew Cheong will still have to stand trial on charges levelled against them by the Securities Commission Malaysia for furnishing false information to Bursa Malaysia between 2010 and 2011, after the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court earlier this month declined to strike out the ongoing charges against them.
Citing the COA decision, lawyers for Tan, 66, and Ching, 58, argued that there were grounds for the Sessions Court to throw out the charges against the two men, who were each charged in 2013 with seven and eight counts respectively of furnishing false statements, relating to Silver Bird’s revenue in 2010 and 2011, to Bursa.
Both were charged under Section 369(b) of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007 (CMSA), in relation to false statements contained in the company’s eight unaudited quarterly financial accounts for the financial years ended Oct 31, 2010 and 2011. Should they be convicted of the CMSA charges, they face up to 10 years’ jail and a maximum fine of RM3 million.
On Dec 9, Sessions Court judge Hasbullah Adam ruled that the lower court was not bound by the COA decision last June, and that it was premature for him to dismiss the charges. He also said both men would not be prejudiced by the decision, as they could still defend or contest the charges.
Hasbullah allowed the trial to proceed on Dec 16, with five prosecution witnesses scheduled to testify; 30 witnesses had testified earlier.
A company known for its “High 5” brand of bread, Silver Bird came under scrutiny over financial irregularities amounting to RM112 million in its 2012 accounts, which subsequently turned out to be more than twice as much at RM297 million.
After charges were levelled against Tan and Ching, the duo were relieved of their positions.
The company never recovered from the mismanagement and, after going into Practice Note 17 status, it was eventually delisted in 2014.
Two years later, AmanahRaya Real Estate Investment Trust obtained a court order to wind up the company.