Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jengka settlers join Felda fraud suit
Hafiz Yatim
Jun 17, 11
10 friends can read this story for free
The Federal Land Development Authority is facing further suits from participants in their programme after 711 settlers in Jengka, Pahang filed a RM344 million suit for fraud and breach of trust, at the Temerloh High Court.

Felda has already seen suits from settlers in Kelantan, Johor and Negri Sembilan, with the latest - and largest - one from Jengka.

The suit was filed through solicitors M/s Daim & Gamany this morning.

The settlers named FELDA and FELDA Palm Industries Sdn Bhd, as defendants.

In their statement of claim, the settlers alleged they were contractually bound by Felda, to exclusively deliver their oil palm yield to Felda Palm Industries.

They claimed they have always been paid at a lower oil extraction grade Oil Extraction Rate ("OER") for the last 15 years - averaging at 18.5 percent as stated in the Akuan Penerimaan BTS, the receipt that is given for each truck delivery of fruit bunches.

The settlers alleged there is no clear evidence showing how Felda Palm Industries came to these different rates, which were given on a daily basis at the point of each delivery.

The settlers suspected something was amiss when they realised that they could never match the higher recommended rate by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

The settlers, through their representatives, sent random samples of their fruit yields to independent laboratories to assess the actual rate of the OER.

The results from the lab tests showed a much higher average rate of 27 percent, which would mean an average difference of 8.5 percent over the rate used by the 2nd Defendant.

Statistics in question

The lawyers claimed they have evidence to show that in 2008, the 711 settlers from the 16 Felda programmes in Jengka had delivered at average yield of 120 metric ton per settler. The settlers were paid by FELDA the average price of RM560 per ton the same year.

Using the figure of 8.5 percent lost to the settlers, FELDA has caused a loss of RM257.60 per ton, which works out to about RM30,912.00 to each settler for the year 2008 alone.

They also claimed FELDA has deducted their fruit yields improperly by subtracting an average of 200 kg per month for disqualified fruit bunches without returning the fruit bunches to the settlers.

This led to a further loss of RM1,344 per settler per year, or RM 14,333,760 for all the settlers over the 15 year claim period.

They alleged that over the last 15 years, FELDA has caused a loss to these 711 settlers to the tune of more than RM344 million.

Through this writ summons and the process of discovery in court, the lawyers hoped to obtain the exact production figures for all the other schemes involved to compute a more accurate measure of the settlers' loss over the claim period.

The settlers are also seeking exemplary damages as they contend that FELDA, the statutory authority set up by law to look after the welfare of the settlers, has instead exploited its position of power and authority over the settlers and committed fraud and breach of trust.

No comments: