The return of Vinod Sekhar: Vindicated and setting the record straight (Part 1)

PROMINENT industrialist and philanthropist Datuk Vinod Sekhar has come forward to state openly that the entire bankruptcy story surrounding him is “nonsense and malicious”.

Referring in particular to the bankruptcy issue related to finance company Orix Credit Malaysia Sdn Bhd from 1998 during the Asian Financial Crisis, the 52 year-old chairman and group chief executive of PETRA Group sets the record straight by clarifying that the entire bankruptcy ordeal was annulled and not discharged – in other words, it never happened in the first place.

For the record, the bankruptcy action against Vinod by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in 2005 was for a corporate guarantee and not as principled debtor to Orix Credit for RM1.5 mil in 1996.

He was one of six directors which were required to give guarantees for the company and he confirmed that he was the only director that action was taken against.

“Firstly, I was under the impression that all matters relating to the financial crisis had been dealt with. I was shocked to learn in 2010 that there was this action in place,” he told FocusM in a no holds barred interview.

‘I contested the action of the Insolvency Department in 2011, and the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed their application on the basis that the signatures on the bankruptcy order were forged alongside other inconsistencies.”

A search by FocusM with the Insolvency Department on Vinod shows no records exist.

Even as his name has been cleared by the High Court, Vinod still has to battle public perception that is often triggered by irresponsible published materials, especially those linked to political agendas.

“Historically, I have never cared about what people say about me, I only cared about the opinions of those whom I respect,” he stated.

“However, in this new age of how information is spread and sometimes manipulated, I realise that silence is no longer an option. Now I will no longer be silent and our legal team has been instructed to take whatever action necessary.

“This is a strange battle as I’ve never taken a Government contract, received Government grant nor public funds in my life compared to many others who have.”

Vinod is the son of the late Tan Sri BC Sekhar, the globally renowned former chairman of the Malaysian Rubber Research and Development Board.

Datuk Vinod Sekhar with his father


“Many people believe that I inherited wealth from my father. This is not true … my father was a straight and honest nation-builder who loved his country and lived to serve Malaysia. He retired with just his pension and EPF,” he clarified.

“In fact, I had to get a scholarship to go to school abroad and university. I may not have inherited financial wealth from him but what I did inherit is his reputation, his standing and his name, which is more valuable that what I have now or will ever likely to have.”

A self-made millionaire by 21, Vinod also spoke about the many hardships he had to endure over the years – ranging from political and institutional attacks and defamation – all because of his outspokenness on race-based politics and corruption.

“It was not normal in Malaysia to be a businessman who spoke up against the Government. We were expected to enjoy the fruits of a successful economy and say thank you,” he lamented.

“There were many targeted campaigns against me and unfortunately after the Pakatan Harapan Government fell, some of these campaigns seem to have resumed.

“I believe strongly that economic leaders had to play a role in societal development. We cannot ignore abuse of power and corruption. And we certainly cannot ignore the increasing poverty among our population. It is something I hold true until today, and I will not change.”

On the bigger picture, nevertheless, Vinod – “as an ordinary human being” – confessed to his own shortcomings along the way.

“As an entrepreneur I take chances when others don’t. When these investments work out, everyone makes money and is happy,” he admitted.

“But when they don’t, people lose money and jobs, it is not something I take lightly as I am in those instances, the biggest loser financially.”

According to Vinod, there were many times where he would have liked and felt responsible to support various causes and in some instances he fell short.  

Like during the (2008/2009) Global Financial Crisis triggered by the Lehman Brothers collapse, his business was just about to go public in the UK with one of his technology companies and he remembers being so confident about the future.

“Our team had agreed that we would donate to selected causes at that time post-listing.   Unfortunately, with global crisis, the listing was cancelled, and we were not able to make good on those pledges and we were struggling to survive as a business,” he recalled.

“People forget how near the edge the world was in to total economic collapse at the time.”

Datuk Vinod Sekhar with his wife and two daughters


It was reported at that time that Vinod had several pledges that he later could not fulfill. But he was not alone in this given billions in pledges of donations worldwide by many individuals and corporations were also cancelled when the value of wealth collapsed.

But as the economy recovered and his businesses started to prosper again, Vinod said his PETRA Group has continuously strived hard to give back to society through the trust and foundation vis-à-vis his personal “social capitalism” belief.

“I am someone who loves my country and I’m a proud Malaysian. I care about this nation and the issues that impact her,” he pointed out.

“PETRA Group has since the start of the movement control order (MCO) last year, done various initiatives to help and support communities in need with some RM8 mil in aid having been channeled towards refugees, the disabled, Orang Asli, hospitals, old folk’s and children’s homes, and the hardcore poor.”

As discussed with the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who is also the Coordinating Minister of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, the PETRA Group stands by its offer to donate up to 200,000 vaccines to the country’s most vulnerable groups, according to Vinod.

“We are offering to purchase the vaccines and give it for free with no strings attached, other than it should only be used for the B40 and vulnerable communities,” he insisted.

“I respect Khairy because he has a complex job to deal with. Hence, we are here to help in anyway if we can. Our aim is to show a way in which other corporations can get involved because it is only when we all come together to deal with this pandemic will the economy recover.” – May 27, 2021

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