Ahmad Maslan: 1MDB should engage more with the public

The management of state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) should increase public engagement to be more transparent and avoid any unclear accusations against the company, said Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

He was responding to a question on Batu Kawan Umno division vice-head Datuk Seri Paduka Khairuddin Abu Hassan’s move to lodge a police report against 1MDB and its subsidiaries on Dec 12. In the report, the Penang Umno leader had urged the police to conduct a thorough and objective investigation into the “dubious” and “suspicious” nature of the company’s financial transactions and decisions.

Ahmad said 1MDB had recorded four consecutive years of profit before falling into the red last year, and that he was confident the company could fare better this year based on its assets and strong management team.
However, Batu Kawan division chief Mohd Noor Ahmad said Khairuddin had not consulted or discussed his decision with anyone.

Ahmad said he hoped Khairuddin’s information on 1MDB was accurate.

“1MDB has assets worth between RM51bil and RM52bil and debts of over RM42bil, of which RM5.8bil is guaranteed by the Government. From my point of view, 1MDB has a set of responsible directors and strong advisers to manage the company well.

“I hope the company will strive to improve its competitiveness and think that the perception of the company has been skewed towards the negative side due to the police report,” he said.

1MDB, which is slated as a government investment fund, has come under scrutiny from various quarters for its quick expansion of its balance sheet. The entity, established in 2009, has also not had an annual public engagement with the media on its operations and plans, something which is done by the other investment arms such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Ekuiti Nasional Bhd.

It has been reported, quoting a source, that 1MDB has submitted an application for an initial public offering of its energy assets that could raise about US$4bil (RM13.4bil).

The fund’s power business could list on the Kuala Lumpur exchange as early as in April, according to the source. 1MDB plans to use the proceeds for working capital and to reduce debt.

Source: The star (19 December 2014)

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