TONY FERNANDES & AIRASIA CO-FOUNDER KAMARUDIN TO TAKE 2 MONTHS LEAVE, DENY TAKING RM240 MIL BRIBES FROM AIRBUS

AIRASIA co-founders Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun today denied any wrongdoing after the budget airline was implicated in alleged corrupt practices in an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against Airbus SE.

Fernandes and Kamarudin said they will give authorities their full cooperation even though they have not been approached about the allegations or the €991 million (RM4.5 billion) deferred prosecution agreement that the SFO reportedly arrived at with Airbus.

“This agreement and the contents were arrived at without any reference to us; neither were any explanations sought from us. This is in clear violation of fundamental legal principles of fairness.

“We categorically deny any and all allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct on our part as directors of AirAsia,”   they said in a joint statement today, adding that they welcome any investigations by the authorities.

“So as to facilitate a full and independent investigation by AirAsia, we are relinquishing our executive roles with immediate effect for a period of two months, or such other period that the companies may deem fit,” they said.

The duo said they will continue to assist AirAsia in an advisory capacity as and when required.

Meanwhile, in a Bursa Malaysia filing earlier today, the airline group said the two have been redesignated as non-independent non-executive board members of AAGB.

In view of the current difficult economic circumstances facing the airline industry, a Non-Executive Independent Board Committee formed by AAGB’s board of directors has decided to retain them as advisers to the company during the two-month period.

The committee comprises the non-executive members of the board.

Tharumalingam Kanagalingam has been appointed the acting CEO of AAGB in the interim on the recommendation of the committee.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Saturday said it has gotten in touch with British authorities and is investigating claims in UK court documents that executives in the two airlines were paid US$50 million (RM204 million) by Airbus in exchange for sales contracts.

Meanwhile, the Securities Commission said yesterday it will examine the allegations and review all evidence to determine whether securities laws were breached as both AirAsia and AirAsia X are listed entities.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) today said it will also probe into the Airasia-Airbus graft allegations to check for violations to the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act.

The aviation regulator said as holders of air service licences issued by Mavcom, AirAsia and AirAsia X are subject to the Mavcom Act and its guidelines.

This came as a response to a judgment by the Crown Court in London on graft allegations involving Airbus SE and AirAsia Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd executives.

The budget airline has denied the allegations, including that aircraft order agreements were linked to the sponsorship of a sports team related to AirAsia executives.

The agreement in the UK is part of a global settlement action for bribery, in which the aircraft manufacturer has to pay a total of €3.6 billion over the next three years to authorities in the US and France as well to avoid prosecution.

AirAsia bosses take 2-month break amid graft probe

AIRASIA Group Bhd (AAGB) executive chairman Kamarudin Meranun and chief executive officer Tony Fernandes will relinquish their executive positions within the group with immediate effect, in the wake of corruption allegations in connection with Airbus.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the airline said the relinquishment would be for a period of two months or such other period the company deemed fit.

In view of the current difficult economic circumstances facing the airline industry, a Non-Executive Independent Board Committee formed by AAGB’s board of directors has decided to retain them as advisers to the company during the two-month period.

The committee comprises the non-executive members of the board.

Kamarudin and Tony Fernandes are re-designated as non-independent non-executive board members of AAGB.

AAGB and sister group AirAsia X Bhd plunged in active trade after the report on bribery probe surfaced.

At 5pm, AirAsia Group dropped 15 sen, or 10.49%, to RM1.28 with 57.67 million shares changing hands, while AirAsia X dipped one sen, or 7.69 %, to 12 sen with 32.97 million shares transacted.

The Securities Commission (SC) has said that it will examine the statement of facts in the case of Regina vs Airbus SE, which has exposed several allegations against both companies.

AirAsia, in a statement released on Saturday, denied the allegations, saying it was neither involved in the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into European aircraft maker Airbus nor had it been given an opportunity to provide information or clarification to the SFO.

It was referring to an article entitled “AirAsia directors/staff got RM240 mil bribe from Airbus, court docs say” in several press reports regarding the “deferred prosecution agreement” entered into by Airbus SE and the SFO on Jan 31, 2020.

The articles alleged that certain agreements by AirAsia to order Airbus’ aircraft were improperly linked to sponsorship by the aircraft maker of a sports team jointly owned by two AirAsia executives.

In an immediate response, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has also initiated an investigation into the kickback allegations. – Bernama

THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT / AIRASIA

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