Why is FGV chairman Isa Samad untouchable, asks Salahuddin Ayub

Amanah deputy president says such a fiasco should not have happened in an institution as large as FGV, which was public-listed with great fanfare 5 years ago.

(FMT) – Amanah today questioned the “untouchable” position of Felda Global Venture Holdings Bhd (FGV) chairman Isa Samad following the FGV fiasco in which the company’s top two executives were suspended.

Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said an institution like FGV should have a credible person leading it, and suggested that Isa was a “favourite” of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“My question to Najib is ‘why is Isa Samad still untouchable’.

“What is so special about Isa that his position is still being protected?” Salahuddin asked.

He added that such turmoil should not have happened in an institution as large as FGV, which was public-listed with great fanfare five years ago, being the largest plantation group in the world.

“It is the Felda settlers who have now become victims and there is still no action taken against Isa,” Salahuddin said.

He also praised FGV president and chief executive officer (CEO) Zakaria Arshad for having the integrity to stand up to Isa.

Zakaria, who had earlier refused a request by FGV’s board of directors to resign, went to MACC with claims of graft and power abuse in the company.

“I do not think a person with a bad track record would be willing to bring files, documents and proof to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office.”

Salahuddin urged the government to form a special committee and include an independent auditor to audit both the institution’s management and financial matters.

Troubled FGV made headlines when four of its executives, including Zakaria, were told to go on an indefinite forced leave pending an internal investigation into an issue involving delayed payment from a Dubai-based Afghan company, Safitex Trading, to FGV subsidiary, Delima Oil Products.

On June 8, MACC seized documents in FGV’s headquarters, one day after Zakaria’s meeting at the MACC office.

On June 7, the prime minister appointed former minister Idris Jala to oversee the internal investigation.

Yesterday, FGV served show-cause letters on Zakaria and chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha over the long-outstanding debt of Safitex Trading to Delima Oil Products.

In its filing to Bursa Malaysia, FGV said the duo had been given seven days from yesterday to provide a written reply pertaining to the allegations mentioned in the show-cause letters. It added that they would continue to be on a leave of absence until further notice from the board.

Besides Zakaria and Ahmad Tifli, Delima Oil Products’ senior general manager Kamarzaman Abd Karim, and FGV trading CEO Ahmad Salman Omar were also asked to take a leave of absence.