FGV tussle: MACC expected to probe six areas

“The commission is obviously looking into allegations that the high-ranking officer had pressured FGV to continue the contract with the London-based company, despite losses that it recorded in the past few years”

KUALA LUMPUR: GRAFTBUSTERS looking into possible misconduct and abuse of power in Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) are expected to probe into at least six areas that would warrant their attention.

Sources from the government-linked company told the New Straits Times that it was clear at the end of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) eight-hour search in Menara Felda what the officers came for.

The graftbusters, they said, took with them papers that would shed light on several “clearly contentious” issues, which the sources said were linked to, among others, one of FGV’s top officials.

The documents, the NST was told, included those dating back to 2013.

The NST was made to understand that one of MACC’s focus areas was on alleged abuse of power by the top official who had allowed FGV to foot his wife’s travels on first-class flights although she was not entitled to such benefits.

“The documents contain the cost that FGV had to fork out all these while to pay for the official’s wife first-class overseas trips,” one of the sources said.

Also in the commission’s custody are documents related to a condominium renovation project that was said to have been awarded to the same official’s crony.

This newspaper was also made to understand that the commission would also be looking into the expansion of FGV’s agreements with Cambridge Nanosystems company, which involves about £100 million (RM551 million).

“The commission is obviously looking into allegations that the high-ranking officer had pressured FGV to continue the contract with the London-based company, despite losses that it recorded in the past few years.

“Investigations would also serve to establish if the officer involved benefited from cuts from this,” the source said.

It is understood that the commission also seized documents that suggest that FGV had been footing bills for events that it had no business paying for.

“They also took away documents that provide the breakdown of the nonsensical payouts FGV have had to make that should not have been done in the first place as it had nothing to do with FGV’s business.

“Among them were the dinners thrown that FGV had nothing to do with,” the source said.

The source also suggested that MACC could also be dusting off “old files” dating back to 2011, before FGV chief executive officer Datuk Zakaria Arshad, who has been suspended, was appointed.

The source said the documents seized also included those relevant to dealings between FGV’s subsidiary, Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd (DOP), and Afghan company Safitex.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki, when contacted, would not comment on the newly initiated probes, but said investigations into the FGV issue would be conducted in a manner similar to other corruption and abuse of power cases in the past.

“We began investigations after our meeting with Datuk Zakaria yesterday (Wednesday) and today (yesterday).

“There are several areas that the commission will look into, and we will be calling in witnesses to take their statements, depending on the outcome of our probe and what we find in the documents that we seized,” he added.

Zakaria, who was appointed CEO in April last year, was forced to go on leave along with FGV group chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha.

The move followed a boardroom tussle between Zakaria and FGV chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad that stemmed from late payment by Safitex to DOP.

It was reported that the Dubai-based company, which has long outstanding debts with DOP, has not made payments to the company since the financial year ending Dec 31, 2015.

The outstanding debt, which amounted to US$8.3 million (RM35.3 million), was believed to have resulted in impairment exposure, and has been continuously reported in the company’s subsequent quarterly review reports.

MACC officers who arrived at FGV’s office at 10am yesterday reemerged at 6pm with four boxes and three briefcases.

It is understood that the operation covered three floors of the building.

On Wednesday, Zakaria had spent four hours at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya where he gave a statement and handed over some documents.

Zakaria and several senior FGV officers are serving time-out from the company after they were told to go on leave.

Since then, former minister Datuk Seri Idris Jala has been appointed as an independent third party to obtain the facts of the case.

Yesterday, Idris also visited FGV’s headquarters for about an hour. He later told reporters that he would refrain from “making a statement at this juncture”, as he was still establishing the facts.

“I am focusing on getting the facts right… While I am doing that, I do not want to make any statements because that will be very premature,” he said as he was leaving Menara Felda.

He pulled up at the office at 2.33pm, a few hours after the arrival of 40 officers from MACC.

Idris is also tasked with recommending the way forward for FGV.

Source: NST Online

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