Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Happened at RHB? More Questions than Answers

What happened at RHB? More Questions than Answers

This is an old article, but still relevant as a reminder.

Did someone (who could that be?) bite off more than they could chew and now are choking on it? Is it true as reported in the Asian Wall Street Journal that EPF’s investment of RM2.3 billion in RHB, which owns 65% of RHB Capital Bhd., has fallen to RM115 million?

If so, this represents a loss of RM2.185 billion of contributors’ moneys! How did EPF find itself in this position? How is it that there is not even a whimper of protest? Have Malaysians in general become immune to such huge losses by the government and its agencies that the government can afford not to make any comment at all? Are we all blind, deaf and dumb?

HOW did it happen? And what happened to transparency, good corporate governance, trust, efficiency, integrity, accountability and responsibility? Or doesn’t the government even believe in its own slogans?

How could the authorities have approved the takeover of RHB by Bank Utama in the first place? Subsequently how could they have approved the appointment of a wet behind the ears 30+ year old son of the Chief Minister of Sarawak as Executive Chairman of RHB Bank? Is he qualified to run a bank? Is he even qualified to run anything, especially a public listed company?

Where did the vast wealth of the Chief Minister’s family come from which enabled them to take over RHB? Aren’t the authorities even interested to know or find out? What happened to all the laws on money laundering? Corruption? Abuse of power? Where are all the watchdogs? Or is it again a case of only the small fish getting caught?

Now we find out that RHB Bank needs at least RM3 billion in fresh capital to meet the government’s capital adequacy ratio requirements. Where is this money going to come from? The long-suffering public investors? Taxpayers? EPF? Or from Taib Mahmud’s family’s mysterious fabled and unaccounted for riches?

Does this mean more privatizations and projects will need to be “given” to the family and the companies they control such as CMS (Cahaya Mata Sarawak Bhd) to make up for their “losses”? Are the big fish going to be fed some more? When will such rapaciousness and greed end and will or can the federal government put a stop to it in the interests of the state and the nation?

At the end of the day, we will have to ask ourselves “how stupid can we be for letting them get away with it?” For it will be at our loss and expense. Enough is enough. Or isn’t it?

In spite of this, EPF had to pay Taib Mahmud and family with billions more of contributors' money to buy up the controlling stake in RHB, apart from having to provide for all the losses already incurred. This has not been satisfactorily explained or accounted for until today.

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