Ex-chief justice joins Vertice’s board

Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14): Former chief justice Tun Arifin Zakaria has joined the board of Vertice Bhd, formerly known as Voir Holdings Bhd, as a non-executive independent chairman.

Datuk Dr Azirul Salihin Anuar, 40, has also been appointed the group’s independent director.

In a statement yesterday, Vertice said Arifin, 67, replaces Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli (pictured), 58, who had requested to resign from his role as chairman to pursue other business interests.

These changes come in the wake of the arrests of several individuals during a raid last month by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for alleged corruption in the controversial RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project. Zarul is the senior executive director of the project’s main contractor Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd.

Vertice was also not spared in the attack on the mega project. On Jan 13, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, who is also the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had reportedly questioned why a local fashion company — referring to Vertice — was a majority owner of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed for the project.

In response, on Jan 16, Vertice issued a statement denying the group’s involvement in the Penang mega project other than its 13.2% investment in Consortium Zenith.

As at Feb 8, 2018, Zarul owned a 23.1% stake in Vertice. Apart from Vertice, Consortium Zenith’s other shareholders include Zenith Construction (47.12%), Juteras Sdn Bhd (0.75%) and Kenanga Nominees (Tempatan) Sdn Bhd (38.92%) as at Jan 5, 2018.

In the statement, Vertice said Arifin was the 13th chief justice of Malaysia from 2011 until his retirement from office in April last year. He is also familiar with the corporate scene, being the chairman of Microlink Solutions Bhd.

“He is also adviser to Asia Freight Rail Sdn Bhd (AFR), a company set up in 2015, which is in the final stages of obtaining the rail operator licence from the Land Public Transport Commission to be the second national rail operator in line with the multiple rail operator policy using the existing railway infrastructure owned by Railway Assets Corp.

“Arifin is currently actively involved in discussions with PT Industri Kereta Api (Persero), to negotiate joint- venture opportunities with AFR for railway cargo operations,” it added.

Meanwhile, Azirul’s medical career began in 2002 as a medical officer at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre. Subsequently, Azirul’s corporate career progressed via being appointed a director in companies such as Mudajaya International Ltd and CMC Machipex Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of China National Machinery Import and Export Corp.

Vertice’s other directors are Seow Khim Soon, who is the executive deputy chairman, its managing director Ham Hon Kit, executive directors Ibrahim Sahari and Wong Khai Wah, and independent non-executive directors Shaari Haron, Datuk Abdullah Sani Ab Hamid, Datuk Mah Siew Kwok, Mohd Hatim Abdullah and Yee Yit Yang.

Last month, MACC remanded Ewein Bhd managing director Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng and another high level executive in Consortium Zenith for six days to assist in an investigation related to the undersea tunnel project.

Prior to the remand of the two individuals, MACC also 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 — and three property development and construction companies namely Consortium Zenith’s Penang office, Ewein’s 73%-owned subsidiary Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd and 555 Capital Sdn Bhd.

Vertice shares closed unchanged at 92 sen yesterday, giving it a market capitalisation of RM133.58 million. Its share price has fallen by 16.4% from RM1.10 on Jan 2.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Feb 14, 2018.

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