A further RM208m handed to CHGS trustees

This is written by my colleague Lim Cian Yai.

SERI PETALING, Selangor: PLENTIFUL Gold-Class Bhd (PGCB), the management company of Country Heights Grower Scheme (CHGS), handed over more than RM208 million worth of cheques to trustees - being the remaining and goodwill payment for the now defunct scheme.

Of the total, RM182.9 million is for the 90 per cent capital refund under CHGS, RM25 million is goodwill payment from scheme founder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, and a sum of RM200,750 being unclaimed money of 145 investors for the first 10 per cent refund payment disbursed on March 8.

"This gives growers a total payout of over RM319 million as opposed to RM215.5 million raised by CHGS," said Lee at a cheque handover ceremony held here yesterday.

Also present were chairman of the growers' meeting, JD Menon, and PGCB chief executive officer Lee Kim Heong.

The monies were made in compliance with the terms of voluntary termination approved by a majority of growers at the GM, which was held on 8th February 2013.

With the additional RM25 million in goodwill payment and full refund for the scheme, including RM78.5 million of returns paid between 2007 and 2011, the growers will receive a total of RM319 million. 

"With this payout, PGCB has fulfilled all its obligations under the outcome of GM," added Lee.

CIMB Commerce Trustee Bhd has been tasked to repay the monies to 10,000 growers in the scheme. It will take them around two weeks to process the cheques.

Lee further stressed that the voluntary termination was only made possible after he was "coerced to give in to demands and pressures" from the Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group.

"When you run a business, you have to take the responsibility. With all the pressure, I believe paying RM25 million (goodwill payment) is worth it," added Lee. 

Despite being mired in the controversial saga of the country's first oil palm growers plot investment scheme, Lee said he will still consider initiating similar land-based schemes in future, and will focus on advanced markets such as the United States and Australia.

"We will continue, but we have to make sure whatever mistakes we made and our experiences are taken into consideration before launching a new scheme," said the property tycoon and founder of Country Heights Holdings Bhd, who added that he believes "his idea will work".

"I appreciate all parties in this voluntary termination, it makes me stronger and I appreciate the experience," he said.