Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Mustafa boss treated my family like servants: Stepbrother

The stepbrother of Mustafa Centre boss Mustaq Ahmad felt that his family were treated like “servants” and living like construction workers, the High Court heard yesterday in an ongoing trial.

Mr Ayaz Ahmed told the court that he and 13 other extended family members were put up at a Chancery Lane townhouse, while Mr Mustaq was building an apartment block.

After the building was completed, Mr Ayaz did not move in and instead lived in a 2,800 sq ft apartment with 10 other people, which he compared with living conditions of construction workers.

The details emerged as Mr Ayaz was cross-examined by Mr Mustaq’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, for the third day.

Mr Ayaz, his four siblings and their mother have sued Mr Mustaq, his wife and their two children for minority oppression.

The plaintiffs are asking for Mohamed Mustafa and Samsuddin Co, the company behind the popular department store, to be wound up and for a liquidator to be appointed to look into the affairs of the company.

Mr Mustaq contends that the lawsuit was fuelled by greed and that his step-family was “turning around to bite the hand that feeds them” after he paid for their expenses over the years.

Yesterday, Mr Yeo noted that Mr Mustaq provided Mr Ayaz with a “rent-free flat” and a townhouse.

Mr Ayaz replied that he, his wife and two children had a room in the house, which they shared with others including Mr Mustaq’s son Osama. “I wanted to stay separately with my own family,” he said.

Mr Yeo also suggested that Mr Ayaz had engaged consultant Rajesh Bafna in 2016 to “find matters which you could raise in a claim against Mr Mustaq”. Mr Ayaz disagreed.

According to Mr Ayaz, it was after he engaged Mr Bafna that he found out about two “wrongful” share allotments in 1995 and 2001, which effectively increased the shareholding of Mr Mustaq and his wife.

The plaintiffs have challenged the authenticity of the shareholders’ resolutions authorising the allotments, saying that there are discrepancies between the resolutions and the notice of resolution filed with the authorities.

Mr Yeo showed Mr Ayaz documents to suggest that the corporate secretarial practices of the company at the time were “fairly informal” and that discrepancies did not mean that the documents are not genuine.

Mr Yeo added that the share allotments were agreed to by all the shareholders at the time, and they signed on these minutes of the extra-ordinary general meeting.

Mr Ayaz did not accept this.

The trial continues.

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