KUALA LUMPUR – Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad’s (FGV) directors wanted president and chief executive officer Datuk Zakaria Arshad to quietly resign, but the latter “jumped the gun”, Tan Sri Isa Samad said today.

The FGV chairman also said Zakaria was suspended as further investigations were needed on alleged irregularities involving a subsidiary.

“The board was of the view that, if it is possible, he resign, so that it does not become a big issue, but it does not mean we want to cover up.

“But it appears that he has jumped the gun to make statements and so on,” he said in  a press conference today.

Isa also denied that he asked Zakaria to resign, saying the request came from the board that was trying to protect FGV’s reputation.

He said Zakaria has made the matter “messy”, however, by making the affair public.

Isa explained that audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found several irregularities in the trade between FGV unit Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd and Afghan company Safitex.

He said the FGV board was informed of PwC’s findings and the company’s subsequent internal audit also found irregularities, adding that this is the only case that led to Zakaria’s suspension in light of the ongoing internal investigation.

Isa said Zakaria will now be made to show cause over the matter, but said this will also allow him an opportunity to defend himself.

When asked what PwC had detected, Isa said that the audit firm found a breach in procedure.

Earlier today, FGV said directors Datuk Omar Salim and Datuk Mohd Zafer Mohd Hashim, together with the head of its logistics cluster Azman Ahmad, will take over Zakaria’s responsibilities for now.

It said FGV chief financial controller Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha has also been asked to go on leave of absence pending the same probe and will be replaced in the interim by the palm oil giant’s plantation sector financial controller Aznur Kama Azmir.

The FGV board’s decision comes a day after Zakaria was reported refusing an instruction allegedly from Isa to resign from the company following a May 31 FGV board meeting concerning delayed payments owed to Delima by Safitex.

Zakaria has denied breaching corporate governance practices to allegedly allow Safitex to purchase palm oil products without a letter of credit, which reportedly resulted in delayed payments to the FGV unit.

Zakaria who has been in service to the Felda Group since 1984 was appointed FGV CEO on April 1, 2016 to replace Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah.

– Malay Mail