Azmin: Culprits who cost Felda billions will be brought to book

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali poses for pictures with the Felda White Paper in Parliament April 10, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali poses for pictures with the Felda White Paper in Parliament April 10, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said police involvement will be sought shortly over the alleged mismanagement of the Federal Land Development Authority’s (Felda) that wiped billions from its coffers.

The economic affairs minister who tabled a White Paper on the matter in Parliament today confirmed the reports will be lodged once the federal government scrutinises the forensic audit reports on Felda that were presented to the Cabinet.

“Yes, certainly. There will be more police reports to be lodged after the tabling of the White Paper.

“We are going through the forensic report and many names have cropped up in this investigation,” he told reporters after the tabling.

He asserted that the losses were the result of crime and not plain negligence.

“We will ensure all those culprits be brought to justice and to ensure no more abuse of power or mismanagement within Felda,” he said.

Among disclosures in the White Paper today was Felda’s cash position that was now down to just RM35 million from up to RM2.5 billion previously.

The agency is also alleged to have squandered RM2.7 billion raised from the market listing of FGVH to buy political support for the previous administration in general elections.

Felda’s dire finances will now require an RM6.3 billion infusion from the federal government to help it navigate its liabilities.

Yesterday, Felda director-general Datuk Othman Omar lodged a police report alleging that the agency was misled into overpaying for a 37 per cent stake in Eagle High Plantations PTK (EHP) in 2015.

His report accused former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of ordering the RM2.3 billion purchase for the stake he insisted was only worth RM440 million at the time.

Najib yesterday defended Felda’s investment in EHP and said the deal included a “put option”, before telling the federal government to disclose the agreement in its entirety.

In stock trading, “put option” refers to the option to sell assets at an agreed price on or before a particular date.

When asked today if Felda would exercise the “put option” that would let it resell the EHP stake for the purchase value with six per cent interest, Azmin said he was informed that the Indonesian firm was contesting the matter.

Azmin also criticised Najib today for choosing to disclose such matters via social media rather than Parliament of which the Pekan federal lawmaker was also a member.

“Let him come to the House and debate. I’ll respond to him.

“Don’t use Facebook. He is a member of Parliament and is supposed to sit in Parliament. He is not a member of Facebook or member of Twitter.

“Come this evening. I will respond to him,” he said. 

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