Felda lodges police report, claims being cheated by Najib to invest in Indonesian palm oil firm

According to Free Malaysia Today, the police report by Felda, a Malaysian government agency, was made by its director-general Othman Omar at a Kuala Lumpur district police headquarters on April 8, 2019.
According to Free Malaysia Today, the police report by Felda, a Malaysian government agency, was made by its director-general Othman Omar at a Kuala Lumpur district police headquarters on April 8, 2019.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA - The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) has lodged a police report claiming that former premier Najib Razak had cheated it into investing US$505 million (S$684 million) in an Indonesian oil palm plantation company, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) news site reported on Tuesday (April 9).

This led to losses of hundreds of millions of ringgit, the police report said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said he will table a White Paper on Felda on Wednesday in Parliament, to reveal its financial position.

"The White Paper will reveal the true situation of Felda and its financial position," he told reporters after a rally in Negeri Sembilan on Monday.

"Settlers ought to know the true situation of Felda. They ought to know that the previous management was irresponsible," Datuk Seri Azmin said, as quoted by The Star online news.

The issue is closely watched in Malaysia as Malay Felda settlers comprise a big chunk of voters in 53 parliamentary wards, nearly a quarter of the 222-seat Lower House.

The police report by Felda, a Malaysian government agency, was made by its director-general Othman Omar at a Kuala Lumpur district police headquarters on Monday, FMT said.

 
 
 

Mr Othman said that Felda paid 344 per cent more than the actual value of US$114 million in 2015 in Eagle High Plantations controlled by Indonesian businessman Peter Sondakh.

Najib was then simultaneously Malaysia's finance minister.

Felda acquired a 37 per cent stake in Eagle High, part of the Rajawali Group owned by Mr Sondakh, who Mr Othman claimed was close to Najib, the FMT report said.

Mr Othman said Felda took a RM4.8 billion (S$1.6 billion) loan to finance the deal from GovCo Holdings, a subsidiary of Malaysia's Finance Ministry.

"Following the purchase by Felda for RM2.3 billion, it suffered losses when the value, as of last month, was just RM555 million," Mr Othman was quoted as saying by the news portal.

He claimed Najib had directed Felda in 2015 through its special purpose vehicle FIC Properties to invest in Eagle High.

Responding to news of the police report, Najib said on Tuesday that Felda losses were caused by current low prices of oil palm in global markets.

“Just admit that the main reason Felda is suffering losses now is because the price of palm oil fell below production costs post GE14," he said in a Facebook post, referring to  he  the 14th general election in May last year. 

Najib also said that the government should reveal the “put option” included in the agreement with Eagle High that secured the interest of Felda, instead of attacking him.

He said the “put option” in the agreement allowed Felda to sell back its 37 per cent stake to Eagle High at the original purchase price on top of a 6 per cent annual interest charge borne by the Indonesia company.