Malaysia anti-graft panel orders release of monies in Jawala's frozen bank accounts

SINGAPORE - Catalist-listed Jawala's Malaysian bank accounts with at least RM16.5 million (S$5.5 million) have been unfrozen, following an order by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to release the timber company's suspended bank accounts.

Jawala, in a regulatory filing on Thursday night (March 21), broke the good news that its subsidiary Jawala Plantation Industries (JPI) had received a letter dated March 21 from CIMB Bank saying that the bank had received an order issued by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to release the seized properties to JPI, under Section 60(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.

All of JPI's bank balances with CIMB Bank of about RM15.4 million are released with immediate effect. Furthermore, monies in JPI's bank accounts with Public Bank will be released on Friday.

Jawala said that JPI's business has been operating as usual and has not been affected by the suspension of the bank accounts.

Last November, Jawala disclosed that JPI's main bank accounts were suspended by regulators amid a probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, with some RM16.5 million of Jawala's RM28.9 million cash and bank balances sitting in the suspended accounts.

Jawala had needed time then to engage with and seek clarification from the relevant authorities and regulators in Malaysia in respect of the suspension of the bank accounts. Its board had therefore recommended that it was in the best interests of the company that the trading of its shares be voluntarily suspended from Nov 12, 2018 pursuant to the listing rule.

Trading of its shares was suspended soon after the initial bank account disclosure - just five months after Jawala's initial public offering (IPO). The counter was trading at S$0.178, or 28.8 per cent down from the IPO price, just before the voluntary trading suspension.

It saw flattish earnings for the half year as net profit for the six months to Jan 31 stood at RM6.03 million, up by 1 per cent year on year, according to unaudited financial statements released last week. Revenue rose 12 per cent to RM24.2 million despite lower production volume as a result of higher average selling prices in the local market on an overall log shortage.