PAC probes Felcra

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PUTRAJAYA: Several past and present directors of the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) including three deputy ministers are facing serious allegations of breach of trust and fiduciary duty for accepting honorariums without the approval of the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

It was reported last month that Felcra Bhd directors had paid themselves over RM700,000 in bonuses over a span of three years — in defiance of an MoF order not to do so. In 2008, when Felcra wrote to the MoF for approval to pay honarariums, the latter had declined the request.

Among those subject to an ongoing Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry are MoF deputy secretary Datuk Dr Mohd Isa Hussain — who also sits on the audit committee. Mohd Isa, whose portfolio involves investments, Ministry of Finance Incorporated and privatisation is supposed to be MoF’s representative in Felcra to look out for the interests of the ministry.

However, the PAC heard that he had accepted the honorariums from 2010 to 2012 along with the other directors of the 11-member board.

The membership has changed over the course of the last three years, with three deputy ministers also named as receiving directors’ fees without MoF approval. They are former Felcra chairman Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who is the present Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister; Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abdul Muttalib; and Deputy Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Halimah Siddique.

Each director was paid RM20,000 in 2010, while Tajuddin who was chairman was paid RM30,000. This amount was raised to RM30,000 for each director and RM50,000 for the chairman for the next two years.Halimah, however, joined at the tail end of 2012 and as such only received RM5,000.

Felcra’s excuse was that the payment was “consolation” money was for “excellent work”, and paid out RM133,333 in 2010; RM257,500 in 2011; and RM332,500 in 2012.

Other than Mohd Isa, also facing the PAC during last month’s hearing were newly-appointed Felcra chairman Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin and Felcra chief executive officer Datuk Ramlee Abu Bakar.

PAC chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed had made it clear that Bung Mokhtar was not among those who had received the bonuses and is assisting the PAC in the investigations.

Nur Jazlan had also revealed, in a case of putting the cart before the horse, that the Felcra board only sought MoF approval for the bonuses in October — after the money was paid.

PAC sources tell The Edge Financial Daily that the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamad had viewed the PAC findings and was of the opinion that there is no element of corruption but a clear case of breach of trust.

“It is in clear breach of the Companies Act where shareholder approval was not obtained to pay out the honorariums,” said a source.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 8, 2014.