FGV board executive committee deny CEO’s ‘ridiculous deals’ claims

(MMO) – The Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV) board executive committee rejected today allegations the palm oil giant’s directors had approved certain multimillion ringgit deals that ran against its chief executive’s decisions.

The three-man panel acting in place of suspended CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad said it was untrue that the FGV board had commanded an additional investment of £100 million (RM550 million) in Felda Cambridge Nanosystems Ltd (FGV CNS) despite a RM117 million loss over the past three to four years.

The FGV board executive committee chairman Datuk Omar Salim asserted that the £100 million expansion plan was “never presented to the Board as alleged in the news article” quoting Zakaria.

Omar said the RM117 million losses recorded by FGV CNS within the last three to four years are also not true.

“FGV took over FGV CNS in December 2013 and the losses incurred from 2014 to April 2017 were GBP5 million (RM27.5 million), being a start-up company at products development stage,” he said in a statement on behalf of the FGV board of directors.

Omar also rejected Zakaria’s allegation that the FGV board had pushed for another RM300 million to acquire a 30 per cent stake in a creamer factory that is not part of the palm oil giant’s core business.

“On another point in the same article, contrary to what was quoted by Datuk Zakaria, the plan to invest RM300 million to acquire a 30 percent stake in a creamer factory was never approved by our Investment Committee (IC) as the accretive value of the venture to FGV and its synergy with FGV’s downstream business could not be ascertained,” he said.

The allegations follow reports of an emerging boardroom tussle between Zakaria who was appointed FGV CEO 15 months ago and Tan Sri Isa Samad, chairman of the world’s third-largest palm oil plantations operator.

Zakaria, FGV chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha, FGV Trading chief executive officer Ahmad Salman Omar, and FGV subsidiary Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd senior general manager Kamarzaman Abd Karim have been suspended since Tuesday pending internal scrutiny into alleged irregularities over the delayed payment owed by Afghan firm Safitex.

The federal government has appointed Datuk Seri Idris Jala, chief executive of the private government efficiency firm Pemandu Associates, as a third party independent investigator.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is also conducting its own investigations into the corruption and power abuse allegations said to be plaguing the world’s third-largest palm oil plantation operator.