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Rajawali MD weighs in on Najib's ties with Indonesian tycoon

Published:  |  Modified:

Over the past week, the spotlight landed on former premier Najib Abdul Razak again. This time over the deal with Indonesia's Eagle High Plantations, which the Pakatan Harapan government claimed puts S$505.4 million (RM2.07 billion) of Felda funds at risk.

Felda had paid the sum to Rajawali Capital International to acquire 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 Peter Sondakh, who is said to be a close friend of Najib.

In an interview with The Edge, Rajawali Corp managing director Satrio Tjai was questioned regarding the relationship between the former premier and Indonesian tycoon.

“As a successful businessman, Sondakh has many friends across a number of countries, especially in Asean.

“However, it is far-fetched to suggest that he has undue influence over any of his friends or associates,” he said.

Satrio pointed out that the tycoon has a long track record of investing in Malaysia, which started during the time of Najib's predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in 2005.

“Through his companies, he has created employment and contributed to positively to the Malaysian economy,” he added.

Describing Rajawali as a reputable firm with a history that spanned over six decades, Satrio said it is more than capable of honouring its obligations.

When tabling a White Paper on Felda in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali censured Najib over his defence of the deal citing the 'put option'.

The former premier said the 'put option' meant that Felda could 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.

"If the net tangible assets of Rajawali in 2014 are only US$7.2 million, how is it going to repurchase Eagle High from Felda for US$505.4 million?" he had asked.

Najib's cousin and former Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein also expressed concern over the Eagle High deal and called for an exhaustive probe into the matter.

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