Ex-Sime CEO arrested for graft, to be charged tomorrow
KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Former Sime Darby chief executive Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid was arrested today and will be charged tomorrow for alleged criminal breach of trust (CBT) over a RM80 million land deal in a case that may open a can of worms for the government conglomerate’s operations.
Ahmad Zubir surrendered himself to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) at its headquarters in Putrajaya earlier this afternoon and had his statement recorded.
MACC’s director of investigations, Datuk Mustafa Ali, confirmed the arrest but declined to elaborate, English-language daily The Star reported.
Ahmad Zubir was subsequently released on bail, the paper reported.
He had been expected to be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court earlier today.
But an MACC official who declined to be named told The Malaysian Insider the prosecution would be delayed until tomorrow as the case had not been registered yet.
Two years ago, Ahmad Zubir was removed from his position as the president and group head of the government-linked plantations-to-property giant and replaced by Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid, who was then the head of Sime Darby Plantations.
He had been asked to take a leave of absence prior to the expiry of his contract on November 26, 2010 following concerns over cost overruns amounting to RM964 million from the four troubled projects in the energy and utilities division, namely the Bulhanine and Maydan Mahzam project with Qatar Petroleum, the Maersk Oil Qatar project, the Bakun hydroelectric dam project in Sarawak, and the “Marine Project”.
Sime Darby’s energy and utilities division reported an operating loss of RM1.7 billion for 2010 after making additional provisions of RM777.3 million for the fourth quarter.
The last time Sime Darby saw such a large loss at one of its units came after the 1997 Asian financial crisis when a plunge in the stock market and a sharp depreciation of the ringgit led its financial arm, Sime Bank, to post a RM1.6 billion loss — the largest in Malaysian banking history — for the six months to December 1997.
The conglomerate turned in a net profit of RM726 million for 2010 despite reporting a fourth-quarter net loss after tax and minority interest of RM77.4 million.
Sime Darby reported RM1 billion in net profit for the fourth quarter of last year and a net profit of RM2.3 billion for the whole of 2009.