(Petaling Jaya, Monday):
After the police report about RM259.3
million “fictitious invoices”
issued by Technology Resources Industries Bhd (TRI) in 1998 and 1999 lodged by
the new TRI management after its takeover by Telekom Malaysia, the question
uppermost in everyone’s mind is whether there are other such Enron-type
corporate frauds in the country which have so far been swept under the carpet.
When the Enron scandal erupted as the biggest business and political fraud in
United States history, with America’s seventh largest company with sales last
year of US$101 billion folding in the space of two months as its share price
plunged from US$85 to barely 50 cents, Malaysians had also concerns about
corporate good governance, in
particular the RM6.1 billion MAS second bailout after the initial RM1.8 billion
bailout and the biggest corporate pardon for Halim Saad's RM3.2 billion UEM
"put option" debt.
The Malaysian Parliament, however, was totally impotent and irrelevant to
deal with these concerns, unable to compel a proper accounting
into the two RM7.9 billion MAS bailouts and the biggest corporate pardon
for Halim Saad's RM3.2 billion UEM "put option" debt in the way US
Congress probed the Enron and other corporate
The police report about the RM259.3 million TRI “fictitious invoices” have confirmed the worst fears about the dark and seamy side of corporate governance in Malaysia and raised anew the urgent need for a full public inquiry to flush out the corporate frauds and scandals which have to date lain hidden away from the glare of public scrutiny and accountability.
DAP calls on the Prime Minister
and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to be fully sensitive to
these concerns and to announce in
his 2003 Budget on Friday the establishment of a
Royal Commission of Inquiry into corporate integrity with powers to
the two RM7.9 billion MAS bailouts and the biggest corporate pardon for
Halim Saad's RM3.2 billion UEM "put option" debt to ascertain whether
there were mega-TRI false invoices and other
Enron-type corporate frauds in the corporate world in Malaysia.
The RM6.1 billion MAS
restructuring involving assets sale to enable the national carrier to retire some of its debts and provide RM820 million
as working capital to fast track its recovery back to profitability was
purely a second government bail-out
a year after the outrageous RM1.79 billion government buy-back of 29.09
per cent stake in MAS to bailout Tan
Sri Tajudin Ramli's Naluri Bhd. at the outrageous
price of RM8 per share, which was more than double the market price of
RM3.68 when the deal was signed on
20th December 2000.
This is probably the first case in the world of a double government bail-out
of a troubled or failed company totaling RM7.9 billion
- paying RM1.8 billion at more than double the market price
to become the largest shareholder of MAS and then one year later,
committing another RM6.1 billion to inject cash into the national carrier by
using various government vehicles
to buy over some of the MAS assets.
This is a very “creative” double bail-out of MAS, putting Enron to shame,
but is it in the interests of the Malaysian taxpayers?
The biggest corporate pardon in
Malaysian history when the RM3.2
billion UEM "put option"
debt of Halim Saad was arbitrarily and unaccountably cancelled was not only
another dubious world-class “creative”
corporate development but raised fundamental questions as to the propriety of
using public funds to rescue an individual from a private debt arising from a
private commercial contract.
Friday will be Mahathir’s last budget. Is he prepared to signal a clean break from the murky past of dubious corporate deals and the determined ushering in of good corporate governance with the establishment of Royal Commission of Inquiry into all forms of corporate fraud, including investigating the two bailouts of MAS totaling RM7.9 billion and the corporate pardon for Halim Saad’s RM3.2 billion UEM “put option” debt?