PETALING JAYA: The National Patriots Association has slammed Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for criticising the lowly dividend for the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT), saying they were the ones who managed it poorly.
"(They) have the gall to criticise the current government for the poor performance of LTAT which, in fact, was of their making," its president Brig-Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 2).
He added that the recent announcement of the 2% dividend for the LTAT should not be politicised.
Previously, Najib had said that the government was "embarrassed" to reveal the reasons for the low dividend rate, and unfavourably compared the recent 2% dividend to the average 14.1% rate offered under the Barisan Nasional government from 2009 to 2017.
Hishammuddin also lambasted the Pakatan Harapan government for the delay in announcing the dividend, as well as the meagre 2% dividend rate – the lowest since 1973.
Mohamed Arshad, however, said LTAT's auditor, Messrs Ernst & Young, had found past transactions that contained "potential irregularities and weaknesses in operational, accounting and legal areas" in its audit report for the financial years 2017 and 2018.
He added that there were seven key findings regarding financial irregularities, two of which implied serious "negligence and incompetence of those previously at the helm, including the former prime minister and defence minister".
He said the first finding was the overpayment of dividends from financial years 2014 to 2018, in which LTAT's five-year asset returns were lower than the declared dividend rate.
The second, he added, was the overstatement of LTAT's assets between 2015 to 2017, which was due to the failure to impair a large investment that went awry.
All irregularities by the auditor, he urged, should be made publicly known so that depositors and investors could regain confidence in LTAT.
He added that those responsible for the financial weaknesses in LTAT's transactions should be held accountable.
"Should there be abuse or conflict of interest in the financial management by any member of the previous board, then appropriate charges should be pressed on the offender(s).
"Until a thorough investigation is carried out and a final report concluded on the irregularities found by the appointed auditor, Patriot urges that politicians from both the political divide and members of the public should cease henceforth from politicising the LTAT financial mismanagement," he said.