FILE PHOTO: AirAsia planes sit on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

‘Defending graft allegation is not the business of any prime minister.’

PM on AirAsia’s graft probe: Offset is not bribery

Anonymous_1cfb3ab6: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, if you don’t understand accounting and finance, please don’t comment.

It is all right for AirAsia to offset if it goes back into AirAsia’s pocket. Remember that AirAsia is a public listed company, which means that it has many different shareholders who should enjoy the benefit of the offset.

It is not okay to offset when it goes to benefit only a small group of shareholders. It is called siphoning money or cheating the other shareholders who are not a party to the said benefit.

If the government has been doing this all the time, then who are the beneficiaries? The government as a whole or certain members of the government? There is a difference.

CKL: What nonsense is Mahathir talking about? This is not an offset. If it were, then AirAsia should get a discount.

This “offset” is the money that the two (AirAsia Group executive chairperson Kamarudin Meranun and chief executive officer Tony Fernandes) wanted for their racing car team. That team was not owned by AirAsia.

Defending graft allegation is not the business of any prime minister.

Anonymous 2465861491622056: Indeed, where an offset is given to AirAsia to pay its expenses, training, among others, it is fine. However, where an offset is used to pay for personal investments by company directors then it is corruption.

As the offset was used to pay a sporting team owned by the directors and not AirAsia, then prima facie it is corruption.

Let’s see how MACC does its investigations.

Bravemalaysian: Yes, if the offset goes back to the same company making the purchase, then it is probably not corruption.

For example, if Airbus offers US$50 million in free spare parts or maintenance to the aircraft, then it’s all right. However, if it goes to another entity that’s personally linked to the bosses but not to the company, then it’s corruption.

They can be said stealing from the shareholders of AirAsia which is a private limited company. If AirAsia is owned by one person, then it’s a different matter.

Anonymous_1575965142896.22071575964557626: Agreed. This “offset” is not in line with the ISO37001 Anti-Bribery Management System promoted by the MACC.

Depending on what MACC’s ultimate action is, we will know whether MACC walks the talk.

Prudent: Yes, the minority shareholders are the real immediate victims, and also the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), due to higher capital allowances totalling RM250 million over the life of the planes.

If AirAsia leases the planes, the company will have to pay proportionally higher leases which eat into future profits and taxes.

So both the minority shareholders and the IRB are the victims. The company shareholders lose by RM250 million.

The IRB? By the company tax rate, they stand to lose about 25 percent or RM50 million over the life of the planes. IRB must take action. For tax evasion, the IRB should stand to gain RM150 million.

The Wakandan: In a way what Mahathir said is right. Whether it is discount or offset, as long as it does not end up in the person’s pocket, then he or she should be commended for getting a good bargain. Less cost or offset is only for the good of the company.

It is up to the MACC to decide whether the “offset” in the AirAsia case was for the benefit of the directors concerned or not.

RR: Multinational companies carry out corporate social responsibility projects. If that is the case in the AirAsia corruption allegation, then it needs thorough investigation to ensure that no part of the money had entered into the personal bank accounts of AirAsia’s top officials.

The top leaders of the company have since voluntarily stepped down from their positions for two months until the investigation is over. Let MACC do its job.

Pelanduk: Please do not teach Airbus the difference between bribery and offset. It is like you are teaching your grandfather to suck eggs.

Anyway, why must Mahathir poke his nose into this graft allegation? By issuing a statement, he is apparently absolving AirAsia from the purported graft.

Isn’t he trying to send signals to the relevant authorities in the country of what conclusion he expects to see?

Just shut up and let them do their job without fear or favour.

Coward: Why Mahathir wants to get himself involved in this (AirAsia case) is a mystery.

Indeed, let MACC do its job to distinguish whether the offset is just a euphemism for a bribe, just like what a political donation is in former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s trial.

Quigonbond: Mahathir, certainly offset is a legitimate business practice, but do you have to say anything instead of just leaving it to the investigators to come up with a clean bill of health?

Now the investigators will be accused of bowing to your pressure if they give the AirAsia bosses a clean bill of health.

Anonymous_1552707885: Dear prime minister, let the MACC conduct an investigation and leave it to them to decide if that’s bribery.

Moreover, don’t rewrite the meaning of bribery and create another interpretation of “donation”.

Odysseus: The fact is very simple and straight forward. The money went into a sports team which the two had a direct interest in, but not AirAsia. This means the excess money paid by AirAsia benefitted the two persons and not the shareholders.

It looks like Mahathir is expanding new ways of looking at bribery. During the previous regime, we have “donation” and now we have “offset”.