Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar - Should she take a leave of absence?
KUALA LUMPUR - Whilst the investigation on the Sime Darby Bhd and Eastern & Oriental Bhd acquisition is still ongoing and being handled by the Securities Commission’s commissioners, many question the fact that the SC's chairman, Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar, is still running the show as usual.
Blogger ciceromalaysia highlighted this point recently in his blog, questioning why Zarinah has not taken a leave of absence while the probe is taking place.
The blogger’s contention is that, apart from the commissioners who are handling the investigation being Zarinah’s subordinates, the involvement of her husband, the chairman of E&O, Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman, will likely be a part of the investigation as well. Hence, it is a conflict of interest for Zarinah to continue to be at the helm of the commission while the investigation is taking place.
It was also pointed out in the blog that the SC should instead investigate whether there was any kind of insider trading because it was understood that Azizan had bought shares way before the acquisition was announced.
The Mole sent an email to the Securities Commission to find out whether the blogger’s report is something that could be considered.
We were asked to refer to a general press release, dated September 12, on the investigation of Sime Darby and E&O. Click here for the press release.
Asked when the investigation would be completed, an SC spokesman said it is not known but the SC will make an announcement once it is done.
The Mole also contacted former KLSE president Datuk Salleh Majid, who questions why the investigation is not being done independently.
He said it is only fair for the investigation to be done by an independent body. He cited firms such as Ernst and Young as well as PricewaterhouseCoopers which may be able to investigate insider trading.
He also said the commissioners who are handling the investigation are Zarinah’s subordinates, therefore it is fair to get an independent body on this matter.
Meanwhile, Transparency International (Malaysia) president Datuk Paul Low said that there is no need for Zarinah to take a leave of absence while the investigation is taking place.
He said Zarinah has other things to do and as the chairman she still needs to be there.
“The Sime Darby and E&O case is not the only one that SC is dealing with right now,” he said.
“She had recused herself and I think that is sufficient, as long as she is not part of the investigating body then there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Asked whether there will be a conflict of interest if Zarinah is still around knowing that her husband is part of the investigation, Low said that as long as the SC can deal with this fairly, and as long as Zarinah is not involved in the decision-making, the investigation should continue normally.
Commenting on the need to have an independent body investigate instead of the SC, Low said it is the SC’s job as the regulator to look into matters like this and there should not be any independent body.
“It is SC’s job as the regulator, let the commissioners do their job,” said Low.
It was reported that the probe into Sime Darby Bhd's acquisition of a 30% stake in property developer Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O) will be revealed once it is completed.
Zarinah's husband Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman is the chairman of E&O. Azizan accumulated some 450,000 shares in the company between April and August this year.