KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 – The financial trouble faced by government linked company Sapura Energy Bhd is symptom of serious fundamental flaws seen in the management of similarly failed GLCs and that if there is any saving of the group to be done, there has to a forensic audit of what went wrong, said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during the highly anticipated debate today between him and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The troubles of Sapura, which reported a loss of RM6.6 billion for the fourth quarter ended March 2022, was the first topic the debaters took to speak on.
Najib made a call to save Sapura from bankruptcy, saying that its bankruptcy will affect the people, considering that its biggest shareholder was Permodalan Nasional Bhd which manages share unit trust funds subscribed by Malaysians.
He also suggested that Petronas take a substantial stake in the oil and gas company and with their expertise run it well. He added that it had several contracts that will put it back in a profitable run.
Anwar on the other hand underlined the need for a forensic audit of Sapura first before even any bailout plan is suggested. He spoke of how the company was already reporting losses in 2016 and yet during the same period, the chief executive of the company was still withdrawing salary and allowances amounting to RM83 million. In 2018, when the company reported a loss of RM2.5 billion, the CEO was paid RM71.9 million.
The top brass of the company from the years 2012 to 2021 in total took back salaries and allowances amounting to RM1.17 billion.
He also spoke of several other GLCs that had run into troubles, only to be bailed out by the government and ultimately the people. It is not so much about a bailout by the government but what must be looked into even before any action of saving can be done including the fact that so much of profit has already been taken by the group of elitists who had gained while managing the company previously.
The bigger picture needs to be seen, from the issue of management problem, questionable integrity, corruption and misappropriation.