MACC: Sime probe if graft suspected

My boss, Mustapha Kamil, writes.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will open an investigation file into the financial affairs of conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd if any element of corruption is suspected in its massive losses.

MACC deputy commissioner Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull said the commission will let Sime Darby complete its internal investigations first. Sime Darby is a government-linked company.

 "If Sime Darby doesn't have the experience on how to pinpoint corruption, they can ask for MACC's help," he said yesterday.

Sime Darby recently confirmed the market's worst fears when it announced that it would have to book in massive losses suffered in projects in the Middle East as well as the Bakun hydroelectric dam project in Sarawak.

 It is expected to book in close to RM1 billion losses in its third quarter results, which are expected to be released on May 27.

In announcing the losses last week, Sime Darby also ordered its group chief executive (CEO) Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid to take a leave of absence. It has appointed Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid as acting group CEO for the interim period, while the government has assured transparency in any investigations conducted on the company.
 
Meanwhile, sources said that an internal probe started some eight months ago had extended its scope of investigations into determining the real extent of the losses and whether they came about from anything beyond just making bad investment calls.
 
While losses identified so far came from its energy and utilities division, the sources did not discount the possibility that the probe may also look into other divisions in the group and, possibly, other projects.
 
On Bursa Malaysia yesterday the Sime Darby stock shed another 8 sen to close at RM8.18. The stock was trading at RM8.65 when the company called for it to be suspended prior to last week's announcement of the losses.

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