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Ewein confirms MD remanded by MACC in Penang graft probe

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 10): Penang-based property developer Ewein Bhd confirmed that its group managing director Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng has been remanded by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to facilitate and assist in the graft probe in relation to the Penang undersea tunnel project in Penang.

"In response to various newspaper reports, the board of directors wishes to notify that our group managing director has been remanded by Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) to facilitate and assist in an investigation currently being conducted by SPRM.

"The board of directors noted that based on newspaper reports, the investigation is under SPRM Act 2009 for matters relating to the Penang undersea tunnel project. The board of directors would like to clarify that neither Ewein nor its subsidiaries are involved in the Penang undersea tunnel project," it said in a stock exchange filing today.

The company also said it does not expect the remand of the group MD to have any operational, management or financial impact on the company, as its deputy MD Chuah Poh Lim "will continue to run Ewein Group’s business as usual".

"The board of directors will accordingly make further announcements on any further material development to the MACC investigation that they have been made aware of,” it added.

The statement came following reports that two men with "Datuk" titles were arrested on Tuesday following the MACC's raids on companies involved in the project. The agency raided the offices of four state government agencies — the Penang Public Works Department, Penang State Secretary, Penang Office of Lands and Mines, and Penang Valuation and Property Services Department.

Three property development and construction companies namely Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd's Penang office, Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd — a 60%-owned subsidiary of Ewein — and 555 Capital Sdn Bhd were also raided.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said the raids were conducted to assist an investigation into the multi-billion ringgit project, which will connect Gurney Drive on Penang Island and Bagan Ajam on the mainland. The 7.2km undersea tunnel is part of the RM6.3 billion project undertaken by Consortium Zenith. The project also included three paired roads.

Separately, Vertice Bhd (formerly Voir Holdings Bhd), a stakeholder in Consortium Zenith, said the MACC's probe will not impact the progress of the undersea tunnel project, which it said is an integral component of the Penang Transport Master Plan.

"The role of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (a 13.2% associate company of Vertice) as the main contractor for the Project will continue as previously planned," it said in a stock exchange filing.

"As part of the group’s diversification efforts, the main revenue driver for the group moving forward will be from construction projects secured and executed by Vertice Construction Sdn Bhd (Formerly known as Million Twilight Sdn Bhd), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Group which has been awarded multiple projects worth more than RM100 million in recent months. We expect that this growth momentum will continue in financial year 2018 and beyond. Therefore, the Group expects that the financial performance of Vertice will not be adversely impacted by the recent reported events," it added.

Ewein’s shares slid two sen or 4.25% to close at 45 sen today, bringing it a market capitalisation of RM135.71 million. Vertice shares fell 9 sen or 8.26% to RM1, for a market capitalisation of RM145.2 million. — theedgemarkets.com

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