Discovery of new properties and outstanding taxes impede distribution of JJ’s estate

TheEdge Thu, Mar 05, 2020 06:00pm - 4 years View Original

AS if the huge discrepancy between the cash in his estate and income tax paid by the late Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis in the 10 years from 2004 to 2014 wasn’t enough of a problem, after his death in 2015 his administrators continue to discover new properties that purportedly belonged to him.

These issues are hurdles in the distribution of his estate to family members, the High Court was told last week.

“We are constantly discovering new properties [that belonged to] our father. We found one property last year. But there would also be properties without titles, which presents a lot of question marks,” testified Nur Anis Jamaluddin, the daughter of JJ, as the late politician and diplomat was better known.

Anis brought up the properties when asked why her father’s estate had yet to be distributed. Another reason was the shortfall in income tax payments made by JJ from 2004 to 2014.

She revealed that the amount of cash in the estate was not proportionate to the tax that was previously paid, which prompted her brother Ikhwan Hafiz Jamaluddin and her, as administrators of the estate, to engage independent auditors to properly assess the quantum of liabilities in the estate.

“We decided that the best way to move forward was to perform a forensic audit [to assess the tax liabilities] so we can work with the IRB (Inland Revenue Board) to settle any additional taxes.

“If we were to just distribute the estate, we would be liable if we do not prudently assess the liabilities,” Anis testified last week, following the testimony of her grandmother Aminah Abdullah, two weeks ago.

Aminah, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said she had not received anything from her son’s estate since his death in April 2015. She is seeking a sixth of RM1.36 billion worth of shares in three companies that were previously associated with her son.

Her grandchildren claim they planned to allocate the assets based on the principle of faraid but Aminah, 85, said she was not aware of such a plan.

Under the faraid principle, which governs estate distribution in Islam, Aminah would be entitled to one-sixth of her son’s assets while JJ’s widow is entitled to one-eighth of the estate. The remainder of the assets would be shared among the late minister’s children.

In 2016, JJ’s family outlined a draft deed of family arrangement (DFA), under which Aminah was to be given full ownership of the house in Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur, where she currently resides (the title is in her and JJ’s names), a condominium in Mecca, about RM870,000 in JJ’s Employees Provident Fund savings, as well as 50% of the RM180,000 in his Tabung Haji savings.

According to Hafiz, Aminah wanted to use the EPF money to fund the building of a mosque in her son’s name.

In any event, Aminah opposed the draft DFA and wanted the assets to be distributed according to syariah law. While Anis and Hafiz said they respect their grandmother’s wishes, Anis said she told Aminah she would need some time to redo the numbers based on syariah law.

Based on a previous claim filed by Aminah in the Syariah Court, JJ’s properties were valued at RM2.1 billion. This case has since been struck out.

The current case in the High Court before judge Datuk Mohd Firuz Jaffril, however, concerns RM1.36 billion worth of shares in three companies — Rantai Wawasan Sdn Bhd, Alpine Motion Sdn Bhd and Ivory Insights Sdn Bhd.

Following a corporate restructuring exercise in March 2009, Rantai Wawasan became the controlling company of Teras Dara Konsortium Sdn Bhd (TDK). The exercise also saw the appointment of Anis and Hafiz to the board of Rantai Wawasan.

Mohamed Najeb Ali, JJ’s half-brother, who appeared as the first witness in the family dispute, insisted that the TDK group of companies, including Ivory Insights and Alpine Motion, had been managed by JJ, who held various positions in the Cabinet, including second finance minister from 2002 to 2004, as well as minister of science, technology and innovation from 2004 to 2008. He was also the ambassador of Malaysia to the US from 2009 to 2012.

The directors of these companies, which Najeb contended were nominees of JJ, include Tengku Zahaimi Hashim, Datuk Zakri Afandi Ismail, Ahmad Puzi Abdullah and Datuk Rajadorai Muthan.

Following the helicopter crash in Semenyih in 2015 that took the lives of JJ and five others, the directors transferred their shares in the company to Anis and Hafiz for nominal sums of RM1 to RM4.

The shares in Rantai Wawasan are said to be worth RM1.044 billion and the shares in Alpine Motion and Ivory Insights are worth RM233 million and RM80 million respectively.

During cross-examination last week, Tengku Zahaimi denied he was a proxy for JJ, despite the repeated assertions of Aminah’s lawyer, Pawancheek Merican.

He insisted that the shares were transferred to Anis and Hafiz as it was JJ’s wish that the management of the companies be passed on to his children.

Anis and Hafiz also denied they were merely nominees and maintained that they are the beneficial owners of the companies.

Aminah is seeking a court declaration that the shares in the three companies (Rantai Wawasan, Ivory Insights and Alpine Motion) form part of JJ’s estate.

If the court decides that JJ was indeed controlling the companies via proxies, the companies would be deemed to be a part of his estate and Aminah would therefore be able to stake her claim to a sixth of the shares in the companies.

However, the matter has to be brought to the syariah court in order for a new faraid certificate to be issued before Aminah can get her share of the assets.

The trial will continue on March 30, with three more witnesses expected to testify on behalf of the defendants.



Suhaimi Yusuf/The Edge

Anis, Hafiz were groomed to take over the business

Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis (JJ) had prepared his two children, Nur Anis and Ikhwan Hafiz, from young to take over his many companies.

Anis, the eldest of four siblings, told the court last week that her father influenced her education and career path from childhood and meted out “tough love” in an attempt to ensure her survival in the corporate world.

Because of the tough love, at times their relationship would be rocky.

In her witness statement, Anis said her father started to steer her to take over the business as early as 2004, when she was 18, although she had no inkling of her father’s plans for her at the time. She said she had no desire to work with him then as she was interested in the sciences.

Datuk Rajadorai Muthan, who made the journey from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur last Wednesday to testify on behalf of the defendants, Anis and Hafiz, said he was told of JJ’s plans for them as early as 2008.

Rajadorai, 67, was then group chief financial officer of Teras Dara Konsortium and was tasked by JJ with training Anis and Hafiz to eventually take over his companies.

“He told me that I had to stay on [in the group]. I would have retired in 2007 at the age of 55 but he did not let me retire, as he said I had a duty to fulfil.  He asked me to groom the children so that they could take over the entire business,” he said.

Responding to questions from lawyer Chew Chang Min, representing Anis and Hafiz in the suit, Rajadorai briefly explained how he had groomed Anis, which included explaining to her the short and long-term plans for the company.

He showed her the past performance of the group and what direction it should take to ensure its success. “It was critical. She had to understand and ensure that there was sufficient cash flow to pay off loans. She used to give her input as well,” he said.

Tengku Zahaimi Hashim, a company director, also testified on the deceased’s wish for his children to run his business, recalling a cigar smoking session he and JJ had at Mandarin Oriental in late 2014, a few months before his death the following year.

Tengku Zahaimi said JJ mentioned that all the companies would be handed to his children and that he was moulding them to take over fully, as he intended to travel and rest after retiring from politics.



Suhaimi Yusuf/The Edge

Relationship still cordial, despite ongoing suit

It does not appear that the lawsuit filed by Aminah Abdullah against her two grandchildren has strained their relationship. Nur Anis Jamaluddin, Ikhwan Hafiz Jamaluddin and their sister Alyaa Jamaluddin are cordial to their grandmother in court.

The grandchildren always lend a helping hand to Aminah, who is wheelchair-bound, helping her up into the public gallery when she arrives in court and never fail to greet the 85-year-old.

They sometimes sit together in the public gallery before the hearing commences for the day, and have never appeared to display any animosity towards each other.

Even though Aminah still receives director’s fees, as she still sits on the boards of some companies in the Rantai Wawasan group of companies, Anis and Hafiz told the court that they also give her money from time to time out of their own pockets.

Hafiz has told the court that his father had instructed him to take care of the family. “You mentioned that your late father had asked you to take care of your grandmother and your aunt. Have you lived up to the promise you made to your father?” lawyer Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman asked him during cross-examination.

“Yes. I still do,” said Hafiz.

He said that since his father’s death, he has provided for Aminah, paying for all her living expenses. Hafiz and Anis give her about RM44,000 a month to cover expenses for a driver, vehicle maintenance, domestic help and security.

In his witness statement, Hafiz described his relationship with Aminah as “apprehensive and not too friendly” after she filed the lawsuit against himself and Anis, but said it had recently improved.

He also visits her whenever possible, depending on his schedule. “She is my grandmother and my father has always told my siblings and me that we must look after our grandmother,” he said in his witness statement.

In addition, the siblings also pay to educate the children of their half-uncle Mohamed Najeb Ali, as well as for the medical expenses of their half-aunt Khairiah Ali.



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