Yusri Isahak, the former law partner of Rohazait Othman, has refuted claims by Umno leaders that the party candidate for the Permatang Pasir by-election was innocent from any wrongdoings, Malaysiakini reports .
"It's a blatant lie to say that he never knew anything about the cooperative land and money transactions.
"Apart from me, he was also the legitimate signatory of the company accounts.
"To suggest that he was implicated by my wrongdoing is a lie," Yusri told journalists at a press conference at Yayasan Aman, Penanti today.
Since the issue of Rohaizat's disbarment by the Bar Council surfaced last Friday, the Umno leadership at the federal level has been working hard to deny that the candidate has a tainted legal background. (Read here).
"He is prepared to even make a statutory declaration if necessary to clear his name," said Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday.
In his press statement, Yusri urged Rohaizat and Umno to stop dragging him into the blame game alleging that he was solely responsible for the misappropriation of the cooperative money totalling RM220,000 in 2002.
"I am willing debate anywhere anytime in an open or close arena on this subject.
"He was also responsible for the misappropriation of the cooperative funds. It is unethical in the legal profession ... Rohaizat was guilty of it."
He said that parties blaming him for being solely responsible for "swindling the cooperative money are lying."
Yusri said that he had quit as a lawyer in 2003 and went into agriculture.
"I was never charged by the Bar Council or had or had my licence revoked.
"I did not renew my legal practicing licence because I thought I was not suitable for the profession," Yusri said, explaining his career change.
He is now contemplating lodging police reports and filing civil suits against the parties who have made the "false accusations".
Yusri, 39, said his former partner may have misled the Umno leadership by misrepresenting the facts of his case "merely to fulfil his long time ambition to become an elected representative."
"But that does not mean I should become the black sheep," said Yusri, who was a partner in Rohaizat's legal firm, Saif Ariff and Rohaizat, between 1999 and 2003.
He recalled that in 2002, the Penang Small Rubber Plantation Holders Cooperative Society had appointed the legal firm to manage a land deal.
Yusri, who prepared the land sales and purchase agreement, said the cooperative had successfully applied for a RM320,000 loan and the money was deposited into the firm's Butterworth branch account.
Yusri and Rohaizat were signatories to the account.
Yusri said when the land deal was cancelled after a communication breakdown with the Acheh-based land owner, he had signed and issued a cheque for the sum of RM100,000 to the cooperative.
The remaining RM220,000 had remained in the firm's accounts.
In the meantime, said Yusri, a friend of Rohaizat borrowed RM100,000 of the cooperative money deposited with the law firm to finance a land deal.
When the friend failed to repay the money, Rohaizat then took over ownership of the land and attempted to sell it.
However, he failed to sell it off and subsequently could not reimburse the cooperative from the firm's accounts.
Yusri alleged that part of the remaining RM120,000 in the cooperative account was loaned out to yet another of Rohaizat's friend, who again faced financial constraints.
Part of the co-op' money was also used to manage the firm's new office in Ipoh.
Yusri said he then took charge of the management of the Ipoh office while Rohaizat remained in charge of the Butterworth office.
"After I moved out to Ipoh, I don't know what transpired at the Butterworth office accounts," he said.
He said Rohaizat was lying if he claimed that he never knew about the company's accounts transaction.
He also chided Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan for calling Rohaizat a hero for returning the money to the cooperative.
"He refused and failed to attend the Bar Council disciplinary hearing on his case on Sep 14, 2007.
"He dare not explain himself in such a major allegation. How can Ahmad Maslan call him a hero. Either Ahmad Maslan does not know the truth or is pretending not to know it," he said.
The Bar Council has already disclosed that Rohaizat's practicing licence was revoked because of his personal misconduct. Malaysiakini.