Ex-Perlis MB denies graft claims over power plant

(The Malaysian Insider) – Despite a finding by Swiss authorities after exhaustive investigations, Umno veteran Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Pawanteh has denied accepting a bribe from French engineering giant Alstom for a power plant in Perlis.

The former Perlis mentri besar and Dewan Negara president was responding to the Singapore’s Straits Times that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officials raided his Teknologi Tenaga Perlis Consortium’s (TTPC) office last week as he was directly implicated in Alstom’s indictment for bribery in securing foreign contracts.

“I wish to categorically state that the allegations contained in the above report are totally baseless and malicious,” Abdul Hamid (picture) said in a statement to The Malaysian Insider last night.

He stressed that the company’s board of directors, including Ti Chee Liang who was named in the Swiss court papers, did not receive “7.5 million Swiss francs (RM25.5 million) to help Alstom Malaysia secure a contract to build a power plant in Perlis in late 1995”.

“I confirm that no monies were received by any Board members including me,” the Umno veteran said.

Abdul Hamid explained that the decision to award the contract was unanimous and the contract was later awarded on November 30, 1999 when he was the board chairman. He was Perlis mentri besar between 1986 and 1995 before being made TTPC board chairman from 1996 to 2005.

The politician also disclosed that he was unaware of ongoing investigations into Alstom Malaysia by the Swiss authorities.

“To date, I have not been notified or called by thern to make any statements or provide any details. I am shocked that the Swiss authorities have accused Ti and me of wrongdoings, financial or otherwise.

“For this reason, I have instructed solicitors in Switzerland to initiate proceedings to clear my name. I welcome any investigation pertaining to these baseless allegations,” Abdul Hamid said in his statement.

In the report picked up by The Malaysian Insider, the Singapore Straits Times said both Abdul Hamid and his former business partner Ti were singled out in the criminal summons against Alstom.

According to ST, Alstom was fined €31 million (RM130 million) by the Swiss Attorney-General two weeks ago for failing to implement proper controls to prevent bribery by company executives in Malaysia, Latvia and Tunisia, an offence under Swiss law.

Alstom is a major player in Malaysia in the power business, and is credited with supplying key equipment for nearly 7.5 gigawatts of the country’s installed power generation capacity, the paper added.

Last month, Alstom’s Malaysian office denied it was aware of local investigation regarding the RM130 million fine by Swiss authorities involving contracts awarded to the company here.

“There is no probe ongoing in Malaysia that we are aware of and Alstom has co-operated fully in Switzerland. The fine is for corporate negligence in the past and not for bribery,” Alstom Malaysia president Saji Raghavan said in a statement.

“In fact, investigation confirms there is no systematic bribery and sufficient controls are in place,” he pointed out.

The company had described itself as a “subcontractor of a consortium” and a “victim of the actions of some of its employees, who would have benefited from kickbacks”, according to a previous Reuters report.