Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Government reps on NFCorp board not fit to be directors, says PAC

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — Government representatives on the board of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) lacked the skills necessary to be company directors, Parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC) found today in its probe of the firm accused of abusing a RM250 million federal loan.

Panel chief Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid also told a press conference there were “weaknesses” in standard operating procedures (SOP) to protect the government’s interests in the company, after quizzing Finance and Agriculture Ministry officials for over five hours.

“We found quite a number of weaknesses in the SOP, weaknesses in giving clear instructions from the higher-ups.

“The officers representing the ministries did not have the knowhow to be on the board of directors.

Maybe they knew their responsibilities but actions to ensure the proper procedures were taken were not done,” the Padang Besar MP said.

Azmi also added that directors should be well versed in the Companies Act and the accounts of their company but when asked specifically if the ministry representatives did not display good knowledge of NFCorp’s accounts, he refused to comment saying he had to be fair to them.

“I don’t want to answer that as it can go over the line,” he said, referring to orders from Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia not to touch on criminal charges against NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail as it would be sub judice.

“For any board member, there are guidelines. You must be conversant in the Companies Act,” the former Cabinet minister added.

He also refused to comment on the role or responsibilities of the Finance and Agriculture Ministry representatives, Datuk Abdul Manaf Hussin and Alias Mohd Yassin respectively, in approving disbursement of funds from the company.

Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was dogged by allegations of corruption in the RM250 million federally-funded cattle-farming project awarded to NFCorp, a firm owned and operated by her husband Mohamad Salleh and three children, when she was still a member of Cabinet.

NFCorp has been accused of using the RM250 million loan to finance over RM60 million in assets and expenses unrelated to the cattle-farming project it was tasked with carrying out, most of it via other companies owned by Shahrizat’s family.

The Wanita Umno chief even had to take a three-week leave of absence from her ministerial duties to allow the authorities to investigate claims of abuse and power against both her and her family.

The scandal, which has been dominating media headlines since last year, later led to Shahrizat stepping down as minister after her senatorship expired on April 8.

Before stepping down, her husband was charged with criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act in relation to RM49 million in federal funds given to NFCorp last March 12.

But the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said last month Shahrizat was not involved in any wrongdoing related to the award of the project to NFCorp.

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