FGV, one more in a series of Isa blunders

“Isa transgressed the law by misrepresenting himself and his authority. In the first place, he had no business issuing a suspension notice in his capacity as the group’s non-executive chairman”

THE THIRD FORCE




Yesterday, Dato’ Zakaria Arshad and Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha – the CEO and CFO of Felda Globa Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV) respectively – were said to have been issued show-cause letters by the palm oil giant’s board. According to a well-placed source, the duo was asked to provide reasons why action should not be taken against them for flaunting company protocol.

Just to recap, both Zakaria and Ahmad stand accused of ignoring company protocol and policy, leading to defaults in obligations by Safitex Trading LLC – a Dubai-based Afghan company – to Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd, an FGV subsidiary.

The fuss began when the group’s chairperson, Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad, overstepped his authority by hurriedly calling a board meeting to decide Zakaria’s and Ahmad’s fate. Isa undertook to convince board members that the duo was in breach of company protocol and needed to be relieved of their duties.

Interestingly, not only were Zakaria and Ahmad barred from attending the meeting, the duo was never served memos to elucidate charges Isa had preferred against them. As a matter of fact, Zakaria was not even made to know those charges until he received a notice of suspension signed by the group chairman himself.

Now, however you choose to look at it, the fact remains that Isa transgressed the law by misrepresenting himself and his authority. In the first place, he had no business issuing a suspension notice in his capacity as the group’s non-executive chairman. In the second place, Zakaria should have been served a proper show-cause letter by the board prior his suspension, not after.

Under the circumstances, the onus would have been for the board to evaluate the CEO’s anticipated reply before filling a report. Such a report is customarily referred to an audit committee that evaluates if there are sufficient grounds to warrant a thorough investigation.

In the event a discovery was conducted by such a committee, Zakaria would have had ample opportunity to defend himself at a hearing called to evaluate charges preferred against him. Now, did the FGV board ever refer Zakaria to an audit committee, or was the CEO ever given a chance to defend himself?

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No.

And therein the irony. On one hand, you have board members telling Zakaria that he flaunted corporate protocol, while on the other, you have the same board members flaunting the very protocol they accused the CEO of flaunting.

Now do you understand why FGV issued the show-cause letters to Zakaria and Tifli yesterday?

The FGV board is in panic mode as a result of Isa’s blunder.



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