TMI headlined it as "AirAsia execs received US$50 million bribe from Airbus, UK court papers show". AirAsia and AirAsia X are implicated in the judgement against Airbus which had to pay fines to UK, France and US to the tune of €3.6 billion.
The approved judgement can be downloaded here. When can our court make public such documents than limit it to merely lawyers?
Tan Sri Tony Fernandez dan Dato Kamaruddin Meranun were not mentioned by name, but aspersions are already made of them following reports by UK daily, The Telegraph.
Both denied involvement and announced temporarily stepping out from execution positions within the AirAsia group.
Expose blog, Captain M, subtly implicated Tan Sri Rafidah by showing a picture of her with Tun Dr Mahathir, Tony and Kamaruddin.
Officially, Rafidah's formal role in AirAsia is only Chairperson of AirAsia X with no executive role and perhaps, share options to her benefit.
Of interest to this posting is the first to response to the news. Latheefa Koya was reported by NST to have confirmed to be in touch with UK authorities.
Not sure, she has jurisdiction beyond the Malaysian border but she said, "Under the MACC Act we are empowered, and have jurisdiction to investigate any act of corruption committed by any Malaysian citizen or permanent resident in any place outside Malaysia."
The main criticism against her has been of her politically motivated moves against opposition which borders on being personal and revenge. She has the bias tendency to ignore or cover-up corruption cases that involves current government officials and politicians from the ruling parties.
Her recent decision to expose the audio tapping widely believed to have been done by MACC has destroyed her credibility and professionalism. Apparently, talk over the grapevine is police is reluctant to pursue her report as it is practically passing her shit for them to clean-up.
And instead, MACC is strangely investigating to question the power of AG chamber for not acting over MACC's suggested charge with incomplete investigation. Can MACC over rule AG powers?
For Latheefa Koya to quickly jump to issue a immediate statement on the UK decision, it has more a serious test on the credibility and ability of MACC under her conflicting leadership.
She has a tendency to bulldoze issue and ignore rules, procedures and even the law. She is unable to remove her cap as human rights activist that is more rhetorics over practices, and shed off from being opposition politicians is in conflict as a public servant and law enforcement agency.
The investigation on SRC and 1MDB-linked money laundering offenses together with the rush prosecution exposed by Latheefa's audio expose proves MACC's limited ability in investigating and correctly prosecuting complex financial transactions, especially involving international money trail.
More so, the money trail on possible offenses done will be complex, tedious and voluminous work beyond the capacity of MACC to do. This is before any form of political or bureaucratic intervention comes into the picture.
Despite the professionalism and ability of UK law enforcement and judiciary, the RT Honourable Dame Victoria Sharpe P have confined her decision to within Airbus.
Since it involves international settlement involving three sovereign jurisdiction, it could have implication on the global whole aviation industry. However, she limited it to settlement over prosecution. Take note of an excerpt from her judgement, below:
Conclusions on the interests of justice
87. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the conduct in this case, I consider the public interest factors against prosecution clearly outweigh those tending in favour of prosecution. In particular, I have had regard to the exemplary co-operation of Airbus in the manner identified, including its submission to the SFO in respect of conduct overseas and of which the SFO would not otherwise have known. Airbus has, to use a colloquial phrase, truly turned out its pockets and is now a changed company to that which existed when the wrongdoing occurred. In addition, on the evidence before me, the effects of a prosecution on Airbus and the collateral effects on thousands of innocent third parties, corporate and individual, would be disproportionate notwithstanding the egregious nature of the conduct engaged in.
The airline industry is big money business and heavily capitalised.
Due to its nature and safety concerns, aviation industry, including airline is laden with red tapes, requirements and standards set by authorities and certification bodies, locally and internationally. There is also also landing rights, facilities for use of airports, etc that need approvals of government and even investment into infrastructures.
There are layers and layers of approvals needed and all may need greasing to make it happen and for bureaucrasy to move faster than usual.
This is not in any way an accusation on AirAsia or Tony Fernande or others, but the fact remain that the pace AirAsia grew was extraordinarily fast for a private owned airline.
In May 2019, he won the Skytrax World Airline Awards for World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the 11th time in a row. Tony could afford to right to gloat of public acceptability to their services but he never revealed his trade secret. He romanticised about his long journey and passion but the real trade secret never reveal.
In response to being credited as the real architect of AirAsia, one "partner" of Tony revealed that he is needed since the "partner" admitted could not do what he was able to pull off. And it is not merely his marketing skill and public relation stunts.
AirAsia group is listed on several bourses in the Asian regions. That together with Tony's passion for F1, EPL and other pursuits led Captain M to suspect his involvement in money laundering. More so, India is pursuing him on bribery, criminal conspiracy, money laundering, and violation of FDI practices in May 2018.
AirAsia had denied any involvement on the Airbus affair, thus the offenses could have been committed above the company level.
Did the members of the BOD not able to detect such happenings that had been prevailing in the industry since the days of Howard Hughes and the famous encounter with one Senator Owen Brewster from Maine?
Edge Daily gave a frontpage coverage yesterday of SC announcement to probe key decision-makers of AirAsia and AirAsia X in their review of the UK decision. Indeed it was necessary as the news had affected AirAsia shares as it plummeted yesterday with EPF dumping their shares.
As usual, Transparency International Malaysia is seeking public limelight to urge investigation on the matter. It puzzling that they mentioned in their statement, "“In all fairness to AirAsia, let the MACC do its own investigations and determine if there is any truth to these allegations."
It is globally covered in the international press of MACC intention to investigate the truth of the allegation against AirAsia or its key decision maker.
MACC cannot be backing down on this as their so-called distinguished international reputation in the fight against corruption as once claimed by Tan Sri Abu Kassim will only need an egg timer to see it dissipated.
For MACC, TI-M and SC to talk of determining the truth of the judgement, can they prove it is not true? What happen if the allegation is not true? Can AirAsia the company rightfully sue the decision of a UK court for the financial implication on the company.
It could be a tougher time than his toughest time of losing his mother and the 2014 crash that killed 162 people on board.
With the pandermic from the Wuhan, CoronaVirus affecting travel business, now this judgement will seriously have impact not only on AirAsia, and MAS but probably extend to the whole aviation industry.
Scarier prospect than 1MDB which ruling government is obsessed with and Mahathir losing his second Prime Ministership.
Tony became more humble from the crash. He should not lose it and be more humble through a more trying times ahead.