The manner Securities Commission (SC) Investigators are roughing up journalists seems as though SC is zeroing in on corporate player, Dato Ishak Ismail.
The reason is obvious. Ishak has a notorious reputation as a market rigger. He is someone SC would have wanted to lay their hands on for a long time.
Not only that, Ishak is infamous amongst Bankers for getting into trouble with Banks and giving them a hard time to recover his bad loans. In a case with one Bank, he was able to strike off the whole claim due to technicality.
One anonymous commentator claim to be "Dato Ishak Ismail" posted a comment to deny he sold the Kenmark shares on its way down. Instead, he claimed he had bought Kenmark shares.
Why then is SC going after Ishak in such manner?
In analysing corporate, besides reading present and past official documents and records, establishing the personality links and associations usually help tremendously.
To start with, let's understand the background of SC Chairperson, Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar.
She has another famous or to some, infamous sibling i.e. Zainah Anwar of the Islam liberal group, Sister-in-Islam. But that is not where the link we are looking for.
Zarinah has one elder sister by the name of Datin Marina. Her sister is married to Dato Mat Abit. Tok Mat is a nephew to but was raised by Dato Onn Jaafar. Automatically, that makes him an uncle to Dato Hishamuddin Hussein Onn.
One of his daughter married Dato Mokhzani Tun Mahathir, which makes him berbesan to Tun Dr Mahathir.
On the other side of the coin, Tok Mat Abit is a very close friend of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
It is not confirmed whether her appointment to SC Chairmanship by Tun Abdullah was due to this relationship. Her name may have turned up on someone's recomendation and the family relationship only smooth things.
The person very much responsible to recommend names into positions in the "financial" side of Government and GLCs during the time of Tun Dol is the then Minister of Finance II, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop.
Some may be coming from him but any important appointments then would be "advised" or approved by the "Kitchen Cabinet" of Tun Dol.
The "Kitchen Cabinet" basically comprise of Tun Dol's immediate family member - loudest and most assertive being Kamaluddin, Khairy, Nori, and outsiders believed to be Norza Zakaria and Azlina Mohd Said.
Sources claim Norza, since undergoing his corruption case in Temerloh, have expressed in private that he was never part of that inner circle.
Others closely associated also were Tun Musa Hitam (hopefully soon former Chairman of Sime Darby and DPM), Dato Kalimullah (Former GEIC of NST), Dato Anuar Zaini (former Chairman of Bernama), Dato Saghul (Director General of BTN), etc.
Kalimullah was also another possible link that help to float Zarinah's name.
Kalimullah is a "business partner" of "Mrs." Zarinah, Dato Azizan Abdul Rahman by virtue of being Chairman in Ekowood and other business venture. And, he is a close and long time friend of Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop.
By having Zarinah there, it help to serve their purpose of getting their corporate exercises through.
Kalimullah's immediate agenda was the takeover of Avenue and it was timely. The market legend is that Kalimullah and Khairy paid her a visit to tell her they want Avenue.
By being new, the PAC Chairman, Dato Sharir was protective of her and she cleared the enquiry easy. The SC's approval became the basis for Nor Yakcop and MoF officials argument.
Having established the names of people linked with Zarinah, we could try to find of any links between these names with Ishak.
One name from the past provide interesting link is Kenneth Eswaran. This information was retrieved from surfing the Internet for information on Mun Loong:
Kenneth Eswaran, a newcomer to the corporate scene, bought into Benta Plantations Bhd via a reverse-takeover, acquiring 31% of this company and 28.1% of Mun Loong Bhd. Eswaran's partner, who owned a further 30% of Benta, is Haji Ishak Ismail, of Idris Hydraulic.Best World has since changed name to become Multivest Resources Berhad. The profile available here.
Benta changed its name to Best World Land Bhd and, in 1994, Eswaran was reportedly interested in a 250,000 ha timber concession in Southern Laos and was expected to sign a deal with the Laotian authorities at the beginning of 1995 and to undertake logging activities during that year. The concession would allow logging for 6 or 7 years.
Eswaran was reported to be setting up a new company, with both the listed vehicles in which he was involved (Benta—now Best World Land—and Mun Loong) investing 55% and 45% repectively in the new company.
Total investment in the new concession was to be about RM60 million (US$24 million). Because the timber business was new to these companies, Eswaran was believed to be scouting around to hire timber experts.
Best World Land Bhd sold its equity in Mun Loong Bhd at the end of 1995 for a loss, reportedly in order to concentrate on its core business of property development. It is not clear whether the Laos deal was successfully concluded or not.
Mun Loong as many would have known became the public vehicle of Abrar led by Anwar Ibrahim's boys Dr Wan Hasni and now Australian based Sidek Ghouse. Nor Yakcop was part and parcel of that outfit.
There is an old article from Malaysia Today in my personal archives entitled "Nor Mohd Yakcop: Royal Commission of Inquiry in 2008?" dated February 2008.
In case, some reader is not happy about refering to article associated with Raja Petra, rest assured that the article was not written by RPK but by an anonymous I believe is credible.
The excerpt from the article below:
"Nor Mohd Yakcob had just been fired from Bank Negara at that time. Seeing that Anwar was selling the Islamic bank, Islamic toothbrush, Islamic toilet, Islamic bread, etc., Nor Mohd got Bank Negara to jump on Anwar Ibrahim's Islamic bandwagon.What do we have now to conclude?
So, as a favour, Anwar got Rashid Hussain to give Nor Mohd a job. Rashid Hussain gave him a car, a driver, and a small office with no staff.
Then Wan Muhd Hasni and Abrar Corp came along. Muhd Husni was Anwar's carpetbagger man. So Nor Mohd began to fall in love with him too. In no time Nor Mohd joined Abrar as Executive Chairman.
Since old habits die hard, soon Nor Mohd started doing the same old things that got him in trouble at Bank Negara, i.e. breaking rules -- or Mohd's expertise: getting around standard procedures. That is how he became the subject of the Police Report mentioned above.
When Nor Mohd joined Abrar he was offered a chance to own 5% of Mun Loong Bhd. He thought it was a great deal. Since Anwar was the Finance Minister, a RM30 million loan was arranged from Bank of Commerce for Nor Mohd to buy shares in Mun Loong (later Abrar Corp).
But they knew nuts about Mun Loong's business - which was a retailer of medium- and high-end ladies attire for Chinese working women. (What a combo - a bunch of Islamic nuts taking over a retailer that sold mini-skirts to Chinese girls!! Ha. ha.)
Beore they could say abracadabra, Abrar-Mun Loong started going bankrupt. Nor Mohd's RM30 million loan was secured by the same Abrar shares. When the share price started going through the floor, the value of the security dropped and Nor Mohd had no money to pay back the loan.
But the report does not say to whom Nor Mohd pay the RM30 million that he borrowed from Bank of Commerce. Obviously to the vendor of the Mun Loong shares. Who else? Possibly Abrar itself, Wan Muhd Hasni, etc.
The report does say that since Wan Muhd Hasni was boss of Abrar Corp, Abrar Global Asset Management (AGAM) and Abrar International, he gave specific instruction to AGAM to invest RM43 million in investments of his choosing, not AGAM's choosing.
The RM30 million which Nor Mohd borrowed from Bank of Commerce could have been be part of this RM43 million. This means Nor Mohd was suckered.
But the report does not say something else of an even more serious nature. AGAM or Abrar Global Asset Management was an asset management company, a fund manager. It was licensed to take funds from the public and invest the money in shares, bonds, etc.
So here is the picture. Abrar Corp is the holding company, going bankrupt at that time. AGAM is a subsidiary with a license to accept money from the public. Wan Mohd Hasni and Nor Mohd Yakcob were at the top of the Abrar food chain. They were the bosses. Hmm.
As a fund manager, AGAM was obliged to act prudently in managing public funds. They should invest some of their funds in blue chip shares, some in Government bonds, and maybe smaller amounts in more risky investments. There is a ranking of risks. The riskier the investment, then the lesser you invest or don't invest at all.
This is where AGAM did a more scandalous thing. They diverted a large portion (some say 95%) of the public funds that had been entrusted to them into just one investment - the shares of Abrar Corporation. This means they were using public funds to prop up the share price of their holding company, Abrar Corporation. Is anyone surprised anymore that Abrar went bust (into PN4)?
Wan Muhd Hasni and Nor Mohd Yakcob were all shareholders of Abrar Corp. Nor Mohd had even taken a RM30 million loan to buy Abrar shares. So when the Abrar share price started going down, they got AGAM to use public investor funds to prop up the share price of Abrar. This is scandalous.
Then, when the bottom still fell out of the Abrar share prices, the scenario in the Police Report above happened - RM13 million was diverted from Abrar to pay off Nor Mohd's personal debts with Bank of Commerce. This is Criminal Breach of Trust. But who exactly authorised the diversion of the funds? As beneficiary, Nor Mohd is certainly in the wrong. But who were the accomplices inside Abrar?
There was no investigation by the SEC which was chaired by Munir Majid at that time.
The cast of characters:
Faris Najhan was a softie 'budak jambu'. Over the course of 1998, as the CEO of Abrar, he looked increasingly worried as he came to work everyday. I used to see him sitting moodily at his desk, just staring at anyone who came to the office.
Munir Majid was indeed the Chairman of the SEC at that time. He was a buddy of Nor Mohd Yakcob and another lover of Anwar. As the Police Report says, as Chairman of SEC he did not take any action against Abrar or Nor Mohd Yakcob.
After Nor Mohd became Finance Minister 2 in 2004, he appointed the unemployed Munir Majid as Chairman of MAS. Munir spent millions of MAS' funds buying paintings of fat women and living like a king off MAS' perks and benefits. We all know that part of the story.
Nor Mohd Yakcop was part of a scam to buy Mun Loong which later became Abrar Corporation. He may have the motivation to ensure whoever is SC Chairman would not go after his illegal transaction at Abrar.
The Mun Loong that Nor Yakcop and Abrar bought was purchased from Kenneth Eswaran. SC's target, Dato Ishak Ismail was a partner of Eswaran in Benta Plantation (now known as Multivest Resources.)
Can there be some sore issues between Nor Yakcop and Eswaran that Nor Yakcop wish to get even by getting Zarinah to go after Ishak with vengence?
That's speculative and too many layers. Missing is the motive.
[A check of an old record of Mun Loong could provide a lead. But I am kind of lazy and only reached for 1997 copy already available on my desk. I have been looking up on Nor Yakcop's past and found something interesting. But that's for future posting.]
What is noticably interesting found in KLSE's 1997 handbook is that the major shareholders - namely Wan Hasni, Sidek Ghouse, Nor Yakcop and si budak jambu - was only 43.76%. There must be someone invisible holding a sizable portion to maintain control for the group.
One source SMS me an interesting information. A Bloomberg report in 1995/96 said Ishak was also Eswaran's partner in Mun Loong. This needs confirmation from some kaki inside Bloomberg to look over inside it's old archives.
Assuming my source was good, Ishak may have known of Eswaran plan in the Laos timber and had bought some shares in Mun Loong also. But when the deal fell through, he helped Eswaran get some Anwar's boys to buy Mun Loong.
His held shares in Mun Loong and later Abrar quietly remains as claimed by the Bloomberg reports.
Back then, both Ishak and Nor Yakcop were Anwar Ibrahim's corporate boys. If it is true, Ishak was lending another Anwar's boys a hand.
Now, Zarinah, Nor Yakcop, Kalimullah and Ishak all have Anwar's link, old or new.
In yesterday's tip-off, our corporate intel source said Zarinah had allegedly been passing insider information to Dato Soh Chee Wen and Dato Kalimullah to make money in the market. Both are said to be donors to Anwar's political fund.
If we are to think outside the box for a second, could the intimidation on journalist just a decoy to get public outcry so that investigation against Ishak stop?
It is possible because the whole media circus have left SC's case against Ishak weak. Maybe somebody up there wanted it that way.
Yes, it is still maybe. Many maybe-s.