Former Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein has expressed concern over the issues highlighted in the Felda White paper.
Interestingly, he emphasised the deal involving Indonesia's Eagle High Plantations in 2015, which his cousin and former premier, Najib Abdul Razak, defended.
Taking to Twitter, Hishammuddin said the White Paper tabled in the Dewan Rakyat by Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali yesterday would be beneficial to Felda and its settlers.
“I support (the White Paper) and will work with him (Azmin), especially for the 2,285 (Felda) settlers in Sembrong,” he said.
Hishammuddin is the MP for Sembrong, which is located in Johor.
The former defence minister also said that some of the issues highlighted in the White Paper warranted an exhaustive investigation.
“Especially, those related to the Eagle High transaction which has become a question mark for many,” he added.
Yesterday, BN lawmaker Tajuddin Abdul Rahman told the Dewan Rakyat that he too “smelled a rat” with regard to the deal but indicated he was powerless to act against Najib at the time.
Felda had paid US$505.4 million to Rajawali Capital International to buy a 37 percent stake in Eagle High Plantations, even though it was only worth US$115.2 million (RM473 million) in the open market when the decision was made in December 2015.
Rajawali is linked to Indonesian tycoon Peter Sondakh, who is said to be a close associate of Najib.
In defending the deal, Najib argued that the deal had a “put option” that would allow Felda to regain the full investment on top of a return of six percent per annum, regardless of the share price.
However, Azmin pointed out that Felda had exercised the put option, but was facing a hard time regaining the US$505.4 million, as Rajawali is now fighting the move.
Furthermore, the minister said Rajawali might not have the capability to repay the sum since it only had net tangible assets of US$7.2 million (RM29.6 million) in 2014.
The White Paper had noted the Finance Ministry's involvement in the deal. Azmin had also told Parliament that Najib, who was the finance minister at the time, had tried to expedite the deal despite concerns.
Meanwhile, the White Paper also mentioned seven other deals which placed Felda's finances in a critical position.
While the White Paper did not name names, former Umno vice-president Mohd Isa Abdul Samad is a subject of ongoing investigations into the other deals.
Under Mohd Isa's stewardship, Felda went on a global splurging spree through its investment arm Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FIC).