MAX­power: Founders were re­moved last year

> US of­fi­cials in­ves­ti­gat­ing Stan­dard Char­tered over sus­pected bribery at In­done­sian power firm

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

JAKARTA: An In­done­sian power com­pany said yes­ter­day it had re­moved its founders last year and takes se­ri­ously al­le­ga­tions of “im­proper be­hav­iour” af­ter rev­e­la­tions US jus­tice of­fi­cials are prob­ing Stan­dard Char­tered (StanChart) over sus­pected bribery at the firm.

Lon­don-based, Asia-fo­cused StanChart, which con­trols MAX­power Group, ac­knowl­edged on Tues­day it was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the US De­part­ment of Jus­tice over claims the In­done­sian com­pany had paid kick­backs to se­cure con­tracts. The bank said it had re­ferred the mat­ter to the “ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties” and launched its own re­view.

The Wall Street Jour­nal said an in­ter­nal au­dit at MAX­power found ev­i­dence of pos­si­ble bribery and US pros­e­cu­tors were ex­am­in­ing whether StanChart was cul­pa­ble for not stop­ping it.

MAX­power said in a state­ment that it “takes any al­le­ga­tions of im­proper be­hav­iour very se­ri­ously”, adding it had re­moved its three founders from day-to­day man­age­ment of the busi­ness in mid2015 be­fore ter­mi­nat­ing their em­ploy­ment in De­cem­ber.

“Since the re­struc­tur­ing of the com­pany’s share­hold­ing and man­age­ment in mid-2015, the com­pany has im­ple­mented ro­bust re­me­dial ac­tions in­clud­ing en­hanced in­ter­nal con­trols.

“We have en­gaged and con­tinue to work with pro­fes­sional ad­vi­sory firms to fully in­ves­ti­gate is­sues and ques­tions that have been raised,” it said.

The com­pany, which builds power plants in South­east Asia, added the al­le­ga­tions in the re­port “pro­vide a onesided and par­tial view of the op­er­a­tions and events at MAX­power and as such do not give a full, or true view”.

StanChart be­gan in­vest­ing in MAX­power in 2012 and is the ma­jor­ity share­holder.

The De­part­ment of Jus­tice did not com­ment when con­tacted by AFP.

The Wall Street Jour­nal said the MAX­power in­ter­nal au­dit found that more than US$750,000 (RM3.1 mil­lion) in cash ad­vances needed to be ex­am­ined as pos­si­ble bribes, while lawyers who re­viewed the au­dit found in­di­ca­tions that em­ploy­ees made in­ap­pro­pri­ate pay­ments to In­done­sian govern­ment of­fi­cials be­tween 2012 and 2015.

A source close to the case told AFP the US au­thor­i­ties were ex­am­in­ing whether StanChart, via its rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the MAX­power board, was aware of al­leged bribes to win govern­ment con­tracts.

But the probe will fo­cus on whether Stan­dard Char­tered has vi­o­lated the terms of its 2012 de­ferred pros­e­cu­tion agree­ments with the De­part­ment of Jus­tice. Stan­dard Char­tered paid US$667 mil­lion in 2012 to set­tle charges it vi­o­lated US sanc­tions by han­dling thou­sands of money trans­ac­tions in­volv­ing Iran, Myan­mar, Libya and Su­dan.

The il­lu­mi­nated sky­line of Frank­furt am Main, western Ger­many, and its bank­ing dis­trict can be seen be­hind a spi­der's web on Sept 26.

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