TAN Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin has been more than the face of the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) for the last 36 years. With the change in government, the chief executive of LTAT is set to leave the army’s investment arm.
Lodin took over as chairman of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in December 2009 and stayed on until May 31, 2016 when the Ministry of Finance took over the fund.
By then, the fund had already raked up debts of RM42bil and was unable to service its obligations. Lodin has remained silent on 1MDB matters and continues to keep the issue close to his chest.
Below is his e-mail response to questions from StarBizWeek.
SBW: The Auditor-General’s report stated that the management of 1MDB had not briefed the board of 1MDB, where you were the chairman, on matters pertaining to its investments. Several important matters were kept from the board. Why did you opt to stay on the board of 1MDB? Why did you not resign as what two other directors had done?
Lodin: The Auditor-General’s report is self-explanatory, also as there is an ongoing investigation on this matter by various authorities, it would not be prudent for me to comment further. I have also given my fullest cooperation to all authorities on this matter.
You are viewed as a low-profile person whom the former Prime Minister counts on to look at and resolve corporate deals that cannot be handled by the government. The deals include the purchase of the two companies involved in the AES in 2015 and Awan Megah Sdn Bhd in 2013. What are your views on this?
I disagree completely with the statement that the former Prime Minister counted and looked to me to resolve corporate deals that could not be resolved by the government. All deals involving LTAT and its group of companies have always been done on a commercial basis and in the interest of LTAT and its group of companies. The interest of shareholders is always a priority when we consider our investments. In addition, we always take into consideration employment and vendor development for retired members of the armed forces whenever we take up these investments.
Boustead took over the naval dockyard from Tan Sri Amin Shah’s companies in 2005. Was this deal also an order from the government?
We did not receive any order from the government. Boustead undertook this acquisition to complement our other shipbuilding activities and to enable us to diversify our business activities to generate good and sustainable returns. In addition, the investment also provided employment and vendor development opportunities for retired Navy personnel.
LTAT, directly and indirectly, through Boustead owns majority stakes in many companies such as Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd (BHIC), Affin Bank and Boustead Plantations . Why is there a need for a fund to hold large stakes in these companies?
LTAT owns a majority stake in these companies as a result of their corporate restructuring undertaken by the LTAT group of companies to unlock value and give higher returns to LTAT. In the case of BHIC, it was acquired as a PN17 company which we turned around into a successful shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance company. Affin was a financial group that went through a challenging period in the 1980s and 1990s.
LTAT and Boustead restructured the capital and management of Affin Financial Group and got it listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
For Boustead Plantations, we restructured our plantation assets to unlock its value and listed this company on Bursa Malaysia.
As a major shareholder of the companies, LTAT has benefitted well from high and sustainable yearly dividend payments and capital appreciation.