KUALA LUMPUR: Well-known economist Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob was a picture of steady hands when he was chosen to helm Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) after controversy plagued the plantation company.
He vowed to steer FGV into calmer waters. To achieve this, he will focus on three things.
“There is a need to improve governance, improve business performance and see through the domestic inquiry.
“Whatever that has happened, it is not political. It is purely a domestic inquiry into what appears to be decisions made that were not in the interest of the company,” he said when contacted.
Dr Sulaiman was referring to FGV board’s move to initiate disciplinary proceedings against its CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad, chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha and two other senior management officials over alleged breach of procedures in FGV subsidiary Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd.
The disciplinary proceedings involved alleged wrongdoing involving several million ringgit from Delima Oil-Safitex, an Afghan company with an array of businesses and headquartered in Dubai.
Zakaria is fighting the allegations against him. Prior to his suspension from his duties early last month, Zakaria had said that he did not agree to a number of investments that FGV board had planned for.
On June 19, the Government named Dr Sulaiman as the acting chairman of FGV, replacing Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, who has joined the Land Public Transport Commission as acting chairman.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said apart from undertaking the normal roles and responsibilities of chairman, Dr Sulaiman would take action to oversee the implementation of the way forward.
Dr Sulaiman said the FGV board of directors had reasons to believe those being investigated did not act for the benefit of the company and its shareholders.
“There are different versions of the event from different parties. Let the internal inquiry deal with that.
“What needs to be emphasised is, there is no conspiracy whatsoever involved,” he stressed.
The internal inquiry would be led by a former judge who is now on the board of one of the subsidiaries within the group.
Earlier this week, Umno supreme council member Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi alleged that there was a conspiracy within FGV to make Zakaria the “fall guy”.
To this, Dr Sulaiman said any action taken by FGV followed strict procedures.
“Nothing political involved, and certainly no conspiracy,” he said.
Dr Sulaiman previously served the Government for more than 38 years in various capacities, including director-general of the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.
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