ASSB mulls suing those alleging ‘massive scale’ fraud

A statue of Lady Justice. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, June 11: The Board of Directors of Amanah Saham Sarawak Bhd (ASSB) — the management company of ASSAR Unit Trust Fund (Assar) — is contemplating taking legal action against defamatory and baseless allegations made in the media, including social media.

In a statement, ASSB said the Board was taking these defamatory statements and allegations seriously and had appointed legal advisors to look into the matter.

Two police reports have been lodged against makers of these statements for criminal defamation and abuse of multimedia platforms under the respective laws,” said the statement.

It added that the allegations had insinuated without basis that there had been misappropriation and misuse of funds on a massive scale.

These defamatory allegations selectively refer to certain items of public information published by ASSB in the Assar Interim Manager’s Report for Financial Year 2019 and then insinuate, without any basis whatsoever, that there have been acts of misappropriation, misuse of funds and misdeeds of a ‘massive scale’.

“The Board of ASSB firmly refutes these baseless and misconceived allegations,” it said.

ASSB asserted that ever since Assar was establishment in 1993 as a Sarawak State Government initiative, Assar had earnestly striven, even through several global and national stock market crises, to fulfil its socially oriented goal of uplifting the socio-economic well-being of Bumiputeras in Sarawak.

To-date, a total of RM600.59 million in dividends (or an average of RM24.02 million of dividends per year) have been distributed to unit holders.

Assar operates within the confines of the highly regulated capital market industry, and all aspects of its operations are fully transparent to the Securities Commission (SC) as a regulator.

“ASSB complies fully with all requirements for reporting to ASSB stakeholders as required under the SC regulations. Whilst Assar has experienced capital depreciation arising from the severe impact of several financial crises in the past and the limited range of investments permitted to it, this has been clearly and transparently disclosed to both regulators and unit holders in Assar’s annual reports,” the statement said.

ASSB also sought to set the record straight by stating the following:

– only 0.87 per cent of Assar units are currently held by recipients of native customary rights (NCR) land compensation.

– the change in the Fund Trustee took place in 2014 and has nothing to do with the 2018 change in the federal government, as insinuated in the defamatory allegations published in the media.

– the fund management fee was determined strictly in accordance with the fee formula approved by the relevant authorities. In the interests of Assar, the management company has, over the years, voluntarily waived part of its management fees whilst juggling the need to maintain the minimum level of shareholder’s funds under its licensing requirements.

– The RM1.00 Minimum Price Guarantee mechanism was introduced in 1999 to protect the unit holders of Assar against capital loss and was fully approved by the relevant authorities.

– The Guarantee was issued by Permodalan Assar Sdn Bhd (PASB), the holding company of ASSB, and PASB has been complying with its obligations under the Guarantee since the Minimum Price Guarantee structure was put in place. The Board of ASSB understands that the state government is aware of the current challenges faced by Assar and is undertaking a strategic review to restructure Assar in the best interests of the unit holders and the Fund itself moving forward.

ASSB said Assar unit holders and members of the investing public who have any concern in respect of the above issues are invited to enquire with the management company and that it remains fully ready and willing to cooperate with the public and any relevant authorities to put an end to the ‘baseless rumours’. — DayakDaily