Mahathir: Offsets not bribes if money not for personal use
PUTRAJAYA : It is normal to ask for an "offset" in business dealings provided the money is not for personal use, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He said even the government, when making equipment purchases, would ask for an offset.
"For instance, when we buy planes, we will ask for an offset. Whether you consider an offset as bribery, it is up to you," he told reporters yesterday.
He questioned why an offset should not be accepted when making a purchase on a high-priced item.
"But if the money received is pocketed, then that is corruption," he said.
In business, an offset is when losses in one business are made up for by increases in another; or when payments due and owed are used to cancel each other in accounting.
Dr Mahathir was commenting on media reports over allegations of corruption involving AirAsia and Airbus.
Airbus will pay US$4 billion (S$5.5 billion) to the United Kingdom's Serious Fraud Office after admitting to "endemic" levels of bribery across its international business.
Legal documents attached to the settlement revealed Airbus paying hundreds of millions of ringgit to sponsor a sports team linked to two unnamed executives described as "key decision-makers" at AirAsia and AirAsiaX but unrelated to the airline business.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Securities Commission have opened investigations into these corruption allegations, with the MACC saying it is in touch with the UK authorities.
The MACC Act empowers the commission to investigate any act of corruption committed by any Malaysian citizen or permanent resident in any place outside Malaysia.
The Securities Commission said it will look into the allegations and review all available evidence to determine if AirAsia and AirAsia X have breached any securities laws.
AirAsia has rejected allegations of wrongdoing. On Feb 4, AirAsia Group said founders Kamarudin Meranun and Tony Fernandes have relinquished their executive posts as the budget carrier forms a committee to review the allegations against them. - THE STAR