KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Group Bhd (AAGB) executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes will relinquish their executive positions within the group, effective immediately, following an Airbus bribery probe, Bernama reported.
In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the airline said the relinquishment would be for a period of two months or such other period that the company may deem fit.
In view of the current difficult economic circumstances facing the airline industry, a Non-Executive Independent Board Committee formed by AAGB’s Board of Directors has also decided to retain them as advisors to the company during the two-month period.
The committee comprises the non-executive members of the board.
"On the recommendation of the committee, Tharumalingam Kanagalingam has been appointed as the acting CEO of AAGB in the interim, ” it said.
Kamarudin and Tony Fernandes would be redesignated as non-independent non-executive board members of AAGB.
Both AAGB and AirAsia X Bhd plunged in active trade after the report on bribery probe surfaced.
At 5pm Monday (Feb 3), AirAsia Group's lost 15 sen or 10.49% lower at RM1.28 with 57.67 million shares changed hands, while AirAsia X dipped one sen or 7.69 per cent to 12 sen with 32.97 million shares transacted.
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) had said that it will examine the statement of facts in the case of Regina vs Airbus SE which disclosed several allegations against both companies.
AirAsia denied the allegations in a statement released on Saturday (Feb 1), saying it was neither involved in any way whatsoever with the UK Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) investigation of European aircraft maker Airbus nor was given an opportunity to provide any information or clarification to the SFO.
"The entering into of each aircraft purchase agreement was never made by any single individual decision, but instead arrived at through careful evaluation, deliberation and the collective decision of the board members after taking into account technical specifications, aircraft flight performance and operating economics.
"The superiority and reliability of the aircraft and increasingly attractive pricing being offered to maintain our competitive edge in the airline business were key considerations. As a customer of Airbus since 2005, AirAsia never made purchase decisions that were premised on an Airbus sponsorship," it said.
It was referring to an article entitled "AirAsia directors/staff got RM240mil bribe from Airbus, court docs say” in several media regarding the "Deferred Prosecution Agreement" entered into by Airbus SE and the SFO on Jan 31,2020.
The article alleged that certain agreements by AirAsia to order Airbus’ aircraft were improperly linked to sponsorship by the aircraft maker of a sports team jointly owned by two AirAsia executives.
In an immediate response, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has also initiated an investigation into allegations against both companies by contracting authorities in the United Kingdom.
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