19/09/2007 (The Star Online), KLANG - A palm oil refinery and its managing director claimed trial at the Sessions Court here Wednesday to four counts of amended charges of using a falsified document related to the Customs matters and two counts of fresh charges for receiving stolen goods.
Singaporean Cheo Tong Choo @ Lee Tong Choon, who is the managing director of Malaysian-based company Mewah Oils Sdn Bhd, and his company were charged with allegedly using a falsified document with a forged signature to claim palm oil consignments from two cargo ships.
He and the company, which was represented by its group operations manager Wong Lai Wan, allegedly committed the offence between Oct 24, 2003 and Nov 1, 2003, and between Nov 9, 2003 and Nov 17, 2003 at Klang Multi Terminal Sdn Bhd office at Westport to move palm oil consignments from vessels M/T Istana VI and M/T Suppavan 1 respectively.
Cheo, 63, and his company were charged under the Customs Act.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Judge Zunaidah Mohd Idris allowed applications from the Deputy Public Prosecutor S. Devanandan for the two new additional charges against the company to be included in the trial.
The company was charged under Section 411 of the Penal Code for receiving stolen properties, a total of 6,986.225 metric tonnes of crude palm oil which belonged to Lushing Traders Pte Ltd on Oct 26, 2003 and Nov 10, 2003. The oil was said to be worth about US$2mil (RM7mil).
During the court proceedings, there was a dispute when Cheo’s defence counsel Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued that his client was treated unfairly as the prosecution failed to give the defence advance notice of the additional charges.
He also said that the additional charges must be proven to be in the same transaction before it could be jointly trialled with other charges.
Devanandan replied that he had informed the defence counsel early Wednesday.
He added that the additional charges were for the same transactions, which he would prove and the charges were additional to the existing case, not a separate case.
Zunaidah said that the joint trial was granted based on the Section 165 of the Criminal Procedure Code – trial for more than one offence and Section 170 of the same code – when persons may be charged jointly.
The trial began Wednesday.
Cheo was first charged on March 15 to four counts of charges of falsifying documents related to Customs matters.