Thursday, May 19, 2022

Former Tourism Malaysia chairman prods SC boss on AirAsia probe

Wee Choo Keong asks if Syed Zaid Albar is still chairman of the Securities Commission.

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Former Tourism Malaysia chairman Wee Choo Keong has questioned the Securities Commission (SC) on a probe into allegations of bribery involving the top bosses of AirAsia which apparently came to an abrupt end after intervention by the capital market regulator two years ago.

In a Twitter post tagging SC chief Syed Zaid Albar, Wee, a former MP, asked if the latter was still chairman of the commission, following a revelation by MalaysiaNow last month that the SC had intervened to stop Bursa Malaysia from investigating AirAsia.

“SC covering up?” asked Wee.

The probe was launched by Bursa Malaysia not long after court documents filed in the UK in early 2020, naming the budget carrier as among several airlines which received bribes from Airbus.

In the documents, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Britain’s anti-corruption authority, said Airbus had paid a bribe of US$50 million to secure plane orders from AirAsia, in what investigators believed was part of a pattern of corruption by the aircraft manufacturer spreading over about a dozen countries including Malaysia.



It said the aircraft maker gave US$50 million in the form of sponsorships of a sports team owned by two persons it named as “Executive 1” and “Executive 2” in AirAsia.

“AirAsia Executive 1 and AirAsia Executive 2 were key decision makers in AirAsia and AirAsia X, and were rewarded in respect of the order of 180 aircraft from Airbus. The payments to the sports team were intended to secure or reward improper favour by them in respect of that business,” the SFO said in court documents sighted by MalaysiaNow.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and executive chairman Kamarudin Meranun subsequently announced that they were stepping down pending an internal probe by the company, which eventually cleared them and reinstated them in their positions.

Last month, MalaysiaNow revealed that Bursa Malaysia unable to proceed with its investigation into AirAsia following the SC’s intervention.

Some time between Feb 11 and 12, 2020, the SC had asked Bursa to stand down from its investigation and to cease all communication with AirAsia Group Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd relating to the Airbus matter.

When contacted, the SC told MalaysiaNow that it could not comment on investigations.

SC has also not issued any explanation since MalaysiaNow highlighted its pending investigation on AirAsia.

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