FGV at last leg of appointing independent auditor


FGV head of group sustainability division Nurul Hasanah Ahamed Hassain Malim said the independent auditor would produce an audit report that will be used to petition for the revocation of the WRO issued by the US CBP.

KUALA LUMPUR: FGV Holdings Bhd is at its final leg of appointing an independent auditor, who is expected to conduct an assessment of its operations as early as in the next two months.

This appointment is part of the group’s commitment to taking necessary steps towards the lifting of the withhold release order (WRO) issued by the United States Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) on Sept 30 last year against palm oil and palm oil products made by the group and its subsidiaries and joint ventures.

The WRO is an indication that the group’s products cannot enter or be sold in the US market.

FGV head of group sustainability division Nurul Hasanah Ahamed Hassain Malim said the independent auditor would produce an audit report that will be used to petition for the revocation of the WRO issued by the US CBP.

“The independent auditor would start to work by October or November to produce an audit report.

“What we need to demonstrate in the report is that FGV has taken all the necessary initiatives, and this needs to be verified by the auditor to close gaps against all 11 indicators of forced labour,” she said during the MIDF Research Webinar titled “ESG & The Palm Oil Industry: Between Myth and Reality”.

Meanwhile, Nurul Hasanah noted that the US CBP did not disclose the nature of their findings with regards to the 11 indicators of forced labour.

“Suffice to say that they had reasonable suspicion indicators present in our operations. They did not disclose their investigations in our talks with them,” she confided.

Last month, Nurul Hasanah anticipated the group to resolve the WRO issued by the CBP in the next six to nine months following the appointment of an independent auditor to assess its operations.

Previously, she said the group had received nine proposals from professional audit firms, non-governmental organisations, and organisations familiar with certification audit exercises.

She also stressed the group was fully committed to resolving the matter by focusing on enhancing its labour practices by working with the Fair Labour Association.

In a separate statement issued, the group announced that it had also appointed a US-based legal firm to provide support in this process and in FGV’s overall effort to address the WRO issue.

FGV is required by the CBP to undertake an audit and there are procedures and criteria that have been outlined, including surprise visits to its plantation estates.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Palm Oil Council director of science, environment and sustainability division Dr Ruslan Abdullah is hoping that the government would allocate more budget to the palm oil industry to do more research and development (R&D) as well as marketing of the sector.

“The budget allocated towards the palm oil industry is much less compared to the revenue it generates every year.

“We are promoting 20 million tonnes of palm oil, which brings in about RM70bil worth of revenue every year.

“The amount allocated previously for promotion of the industry was not even 1% of the revenue.

“We really hope to see the improvement in the budget allocation for the palm oil industry as we can’t move forward without any proper R&D and marketing as all of this requires funding,” it said.

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