BUDGET carrier MYAirline which was set to revolutionise the aviation industry faced severe financial setbacks even before its launch with much controversies surrounding its co-founder Datuk Allan Goh Hwan Hua.
Companies affiliated with Goh were embroiled in numerous financial discrepancies, drawing the attention of regulatory bodies.
Goh, 57, along with his wife Neow Ean Lee, 55, and their son Sean Goh Tze Han, 26, have been under scrutiny by authorities for the past two years due to alleged suspicious activities, including scams and money laundering.
The family who was recently remanded is not only being investigated for the airline’s failure but also for their alleged involvement with other companies associated with Goh.
“They have been under observation for the past two years. The police are investigating activities involving the airline and his other companies,” a source revealed to The Star. “There are many areas to explore, so investigators will scrutinise each company to investigate any offence.”
Just months before MYAirline’s inauguration in January, a company owned by Goh and Neow faced a substantial fine of RM50 mil from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) for illegal deposit-taking.
Similarly, e-commerce firm i-Serve Online Mall and its affiliates were fined RM50 mil in 2022 for illegal deposit-taking and money laundering activities between 2018 and 2021, breaching several financial laws. The companies paid the fine a few weeks later.
In addition to these fines, BNM in collaboration with various regulatory agencies had conducted raids on 22 premises associated with i-Serve in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. Almost RM120 mil was frozen across 45 bank accounts of the company, sparking legal battles as i-Serve sought a judicial review to challenge the account freezing.
The raids were conducted in a joint operation with the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre, Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), Companies Commission Malaysia (SSM), Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), CyberSecurity Malaysia and the police.
Moreover, the controversies extended to MYAirline’s major shareholder Trillion Cove Holding, a company linked to Goh.
Earlier in May, former Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and Internet of Things Institute (MARii) CEO Datuk Mohamad Madani Sahari faced money laundering charges related to accepting an illegal payment of RM38,000 from Goh’s company, raising concerns about the airline’s financial stability.
Furthermore, Trillion Cove incidentally is a major shareholder of MYAirline. Checks by The Star with SSM showed that Goh’s 26-year-old son Sean Goh Tze Han is also among the shareholders of the airline.
Although Goh personally held less than 1% of the stake in MYAirline, his affiliated companies – Trillion Cove and Zillion Wealth Bhd – held nearly 65% of the shares. As of Tuesday (Oct 17), the airline disclosed losses exceeding RM12.5 mil, casting doubt on its ability to sustain operations.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf had confirmed the detention of Goh, Neow and Tze Han at their residence.
They are being investigated under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
“The remand application was conducted at the Jinjang central lockup and we managed to obtain a four-day remand order,” stated Comm Ramli. “We are conducting thorough checks on their assets and bank accounts. As for seizing and freezing them, it will depend on the investigations, but we are definitely not ruling it out.”
He also indicated that further arrests might occur based on the ongoing investigations.
The arrest of the three suspects is considered a significant development in the investigation, allowing authorities to progress further. Efforts to reach Goh, his wife, and son for comments have been unsuccessful due to their police detention.
With passengers left in limbo, MYAirline announced its quest for a new investor to alleviate its financial woes. Meanwhile, affected travellers anxiously await updates, hoping for swift resolutions and refunds amidst the uncertainty surrounding the airline’s future.
MYAirline ceased operations abruptly last Thursday (Oct 12), leaving thousands of passengers stranded and seeking refunds amounting to RM22 mil. – Oct 19, 2023
Main photo credit: The Corporat Secret