KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Group Bhd (AAGB) executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes will relinquish their executive positions within the group, effective immediately, following an Airbus bribery probe.
In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the airline said the relinquishment would be for a period of two months or such other period that the company may deem fit.
In view of the current difficult economic circumstances facing the airline industry, a Non-Executive Independent Board Committee formed by AAGB’s Board of Directors has also decided to retain them as advisors to the company during the two-month period.
The committee comprises the non-executive members of the board.
“On the recommendation of the committee, Tharumalingam Kanagalingam (also known as Bo Lingam) has been appointed as the acting CEO of AAGB in the interim,” it said.
Kamarudin and Tony Fernandes would be redesignated as non-independent non-executive board members of AAGB. In a separate statement, they refuted findings of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) that executives of the AAGB and its long-haul arm AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) received RM205 mil in kickbacks to sponsor a sports team.
“We categorically deny any and all allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct on our part as directors of AirAsia. We would not harm the very companies that we spent our entire lives building up to their present global status,” they said.
Both AAGB and AirAsia X Bhd plunged in active trade after the report on bribery probe surfaced.
At 5pm, AirAsia Group’s lost 15 sen or 10.49% lower at RM1.28 with 57.67 million shares changed hands, while AirAsia X dipped one sen or 7.69% to 12 sen with 32.97 million shares transacted.
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) had said that it will examine the statement of facts in the case of Regina vs Airbus SE which disclosed several allegations against both companies.
AirAsia, in a statement released on Saturday, denied the allegations, saying it was neither involved in any way whatsoever with the UK Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) investigation of European aircraft maker Airbus nor was given an opportunity to provide any information or clarification to the SFO.
It was referring to an article entitled “AirAsia directors/staff got RM204 mil bribe from Airbus, court docs say” in several media regarding the “Deferred Prosecution Agreement” entered into by Airbus SE and the SFO on Jan 31, 2020.
The articles alleged that certain agreements by AirAsia to order Airbus’ aircraft were improperly linked to sponsorship by the aircraft maker of a sports team jointly owned by two AirAsia executives.
The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) had also initiated an investigation into allegations against both companies and said it was in contact with authorities in the United Kingdom. – Feb 03, 2020.