GP Ocean Food & Securities Commission (2)

Investigation papers were opened in 2006 into the case that has its roots in an anonymous letter addressed to SC chairman Datuk Zarinah Anwar on May 10 that year, but took time because evidence-gathering was laborious.

The letter alleged that SC officials played a key role in getting a company listed on Bursa Malaysia and another prepared for listing despite both companies failing to meet the financial requirements. The letter also mentioned several irregularities.

Copies of the letter were forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office, Finance Ministry, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the press.

An ACA official told the Sun that the key official could have worked with others who had direct or indirect links with the SC.

The ACA official also said the recent charging of former NasionCom Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Chee Kok Wing for graft is a precursor of things to come.

“The case will open up a can of worms and shed light on various allegations of corruption and irregularities played at a high level."

On May 20, Chee pleaded not guilty to eight counts of receiving bribes amounting to RM3.85 million. The charge sheet stated that he allegedly received the money to induce an SC director to help seafood company Gropoint Ocean Sdn Bhd (GP Ocean) to get a listing on Bursa Malaysia in 2006.

Chee also allegedly received money from GP Ocean’s directors, including its managing director Datuk Andrew Lim Kim Ming, to stop an SC probe into GP Ocean.

In a surprising turn of events on May 26, Chee filed a RM100 million defamation suit against Andrew Lim. theSun also learnt that GP Ocean’s former chairman, Datuk Ali Abdul Kadir, was until end of February 2004 chairman of the SC. Ali resigned after Andrew Lim and his brother Kim Hai were charged with submitting misleading information to SC in June last year.

The allegations of irregularities brought to an abrupt halt GP Ocean’s plans for a main board listing. "All these cases are inter-linked and we have been trying for a long time to nab the 'big fishes'," said the ACA official.

When contacted, ACA director of investigations Datuk Mohd Sukri Abdul confirmed the probe on the SC official and the case's link with the Nasioncom and GP Ocean cases.

He said the ACA is collecting fresh evidence on the case and charges will be filed soon.

“We are waiting for a few more witnesses to come forward. Although the file (on the SC official) was opened some time ago, lack of evidence has hampered our efforts,” he said, explaining why it has taken ACA a long time to charge the SC official.

Shukri declined to say whether more than one individual will be charged.

In a statement on May 21, SC welcomed the charges against Chee. “This development serves as a strong reminder to participants in the capital market that they should deal directly with the SC and not through individuals claiming to act for or on behalf of the SC,” said its head Zarinah.

The SC has transparent processes and procedures in discharging its regulatory functions, and these are available on the SC website. The SC has also instituted pre-submission consultations since early 2006 for all applicants and their advisers, she said.

This is complemented by post-decision meetings with applicants to explain the outcome of their submissions. Reasons for rejection are also published on the SC’s website as future guidance for applicants and their advisers.

Zarinah said the SC will continue to work closely with the ACA to ensure that any abuse of this nature will be swiftly dealt with to protect the integrity of our market.

The Securities Commission answered two days later on its website:

SC welcomes ACA denial of false report

The Securities Commission (SC) welcomes the categorical denial and clarification from the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) following the false report in The Sun on Monday 2 June 2008.

Capital market participants are strongly reminded to deal directly with the SC.

"Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who claim that, for a fee, they are able to influence the SC's decision-making. The SC does not condone this kind of behaviour. We urge anyone who has business with the SC to deal directly with us and not through any middlemen," said the SC Chairman Dato' Zarinah Anwar.

"We will continue to work together with the ACA to eliminate these abuses in the market place and we welcome the recent charge by the ACA against one such individual," she added.

The SC practices the highest level of transparency and accountability, with a high degree of openness in our decision making processes. In addition we have in place stringent internal codes of conduct benchmarked against other leading securities regulators.

But what does that mean? Why does the SC not simply write what was wrong and what was correct in the article of The Sun? Why does it not clearly write what was going on at the SC in May 2006? I could not find a single article about this affair on the website from the SC.

Here is another article, this time from The Star, that mentions the following:

"The founder of telecommunications service provider NasionCom Holdings Bhd Datuk Chee Kok Wing was charged in two courts with eight counts of bribery involving RM3.85mil.

Chee, 45, claimed trial at a Sessions Court here to six charges of accepting bribes amounting to RM3.1mil and was slapped with another two bribery charges involving RM750,000 at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court later.

The former NasionCom Holdings group managing director is accused of committing the offences to help the listing of a seafood company on Bursa Malaysia and to stop investigations by the Securities Commission (SC).

He is alleged to have received a RM1mil bribe each via a bank account from Gropoint Ocean Food Sdn Bhd (GOF) director Lee Sin Teck as an inducement for SC division director Kris Azman Abdullah to help in the listing of GOF on Bursa Malaysia and to stop a probe by the SC."

(to be continued)