Ex-Sime Darby CEO Zubir Murshid charged with graft
UPDATED @ 02:14:15 PM 17-07-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Former Sime Darby chief executive officer Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid was today charged with criminal breach of trust (CBT) and cheating, which may lead to a can of worms being opened for the government-linked conglomerate’s operations.
He is alleged to have committed CBT when he failed to obtain approval on behalf of Sime Darby to acquire Native Customary Rights (NCR) land under the Sarawak Expansion Plan.
The charge under section 409 of the Penal Code carries a jail term of not less than two years and not more than 20 years, whipping and also a fine.
He is also accused of cheating the company’s board of directors by omitting to inform that the land had instead been awarded to Vertical Drive Sdn Bhd and Nature Ambience Sdn Bhd, and therefore caused losses to Sime Darby.
This charge under section 418 of the Penal Code carries a maximum jail sentence of seven years, a fine, or both.
Ahmad Zubir pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Sessions Court judge Datuk Jagjit Singh set bail for each charge at RM100,000. The date for case management has been fixed for October 2.
Ahmad Zubir posted the total RM200,000 bail at about noon today.
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 head of Sime Darby Plantations.
Ahmad Zubir 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 four troubled projects in the Energy and Utilities (EU) 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 EU 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.
It 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.