: The Federal Court here today imposed a fine totalling RM2.15 million on a lawyer and 12 majority and eight minority shareholders of a company for contempt of court.
A five-man bench led by Federal Court judge Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar found the 21 people guilty of contempt of court for accusing a Federal Court panel of plagiarising its judgment in a civil case.
Lawyer S. Thisinayagam was fined RM150,000 in default one year's jail while the majority and minority contributories of Kian Joo Holdings Sdn Bhd (KJH) were fined RM100,000 each, in default eight months jail.
The KJH majority contributories were former Kian Joo Can Factory Bhd (KJCF) group managing director Datuk See Teow Chuan, See Teow Koon, See Teow Geok, Teo Guan Hur, Seow Luan Eng, Khor Get Kim, See Siew Tin, See Siew Khim, Liew Choon Lum, See Chin Lam, See Siok Hong and See Siok Kim.
The minority contributories were See Tiau Kee, See Siew Choo, See Tiau Kiong, See Teow Liew, See Tiew Wah, Sally See Siew Lian, See Siew Wan and Lim Yoke Choo.
Justice Suriyadi gave them 24 hours to pay the fine after they requested for time to do so. Presiding with him were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin, Tan Sri Ramly Ali, Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed and Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi.
"It is undeniable that the allegation against the court is very serious and has besmirched the good name of the judiciary.
"They subverted the course of administration of justice and undermined public confidence of the judiciary, ridiculed, scandalised, offended the dignity and impartiality of the judiciary," Suriyadi said, adding that the court took a very serious view of the offence.
Earlier, the 21 individuals through their respective lawyers conceded to the contempt of court charge and unconditionally and unreservedly apologised to the court.
The KJH majority contributories' lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik urged the court to show mercy and compassion to the clients by discharging them.
Counsel David Gurupatham who represented the minority contributories said his clients suffered mental anguish for the past four and half years and had no intention at any point of wanting to insult the court.
Thisinayagam's lawyer T.Gunaseelan said his client had acted in error and that it was a genuine mistake.
Senior federal counsel Alice Loke said the 21 individuals had undermined the confidence and integrity of the judiciary and such behaviour should not be condoned.
However, she said, she would not be pressing for custodial sentence but that the sentence must be adequately reflected in the fines imposed.
On Aug 23, 2013, former lawyer Datuk V. K. Lingam and 24 others failed to set aside their contempt charge when the court ruled that there was a prima facie case against them.
On Aug 7, 2014, the Federal Court allowed the Attorney-General to take over the contempt of court proceedings from the original applicants, KJH liquidators Ooi Woon Chee and Ng Kim Tuck who withdrew the charges.
The legal dispute that led to the contempt proceedings in the case began in 2009 when the respondents went to the High Court after a rival company, Can-One International Sdn Bhd won the tender to purchase a 32.9 per cent stake in KJFC.
The respondents failed in the High Court to stop Can-One from acquiring the shares. However, the Court of Appeal reversed the decision.
The case was then taken to the Federal Court where a three-member panel of judges ruled in favour of the liquidators and the respondents filed a review, citing plagiarism in the court's written judgment, but it was dismissed by the Federal Court on May 22, 2013.
Earlier, lawyer R. Thayalan who represented Lingam said his client was unwell and currently in the United States.
Meanwhile, Alice said she would write in to the court for a case management for the remaining four persons including Lingam who were not present in court today as the contempt proceeding has not ended for them.
Another lawyer Dinesh Nandrajog who represented the minority contributories said to his knowledge, "the case is believed to be the highest amount of fine imposed for a contempt of court case, when it comes to the total amount of RM2.15 million". -- Bernama