Vincent Tan

KUALA LUMPUR (June 27): Perturbed by what he deems as “mischievous” and “sinister” news reports linking his 5.04% stake in T7 Global Bhd with the controversial East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun said he intends to dispose of all his T7 shares in due course.

“I hope this will put an end to any further controversy over this issue,” he said in a statement yesterday. Tan, conglomerate Berjaya Corp Bhd founder and executive chairman, said he started disposing of some of his T7 shares since yesterday.

He also said he had no knowledge that T7 is one of the contractors for the ECRL project, tasked to China Communications Construction Co Ltd and whose contract terms have been subject to renegotiation.

He was responding to news and social media articles regarding his recent acquisition of 21 million shares or a 5.04% stake in T7 Global.

On Monday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad denied that the government is considering to proceed with the ECRL project because Tan had bought into the company.

Tan was among the entrepreneurs who had been successful under Dr Mahathir’s 21-year tenure as prime minister until 2003, and was among the businessmen who first met with Dr Mahathir at his house after the latter was sworn in as PM for the second time after the 14th general election on May 9.

“I had no knowledge that T7 was one of the contractors for the ECRL project when I purchased shares in the company. I acquired the stake in T7 as I am acquainted with the company’s major shareholder, and more importantly as a long-term investment in the oil and gas services industry as T7 is well positioned in this sector,” Tan stressed.

He noted that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had also clarified that since RM20 billion had been paid under the ECRL project, it would be too costly to cancel the project but would be renegotiated to lower the cost of the project.

Tan slammed several news reports and social media articles appearing to imply a “sinister link” between his acquisition of a substantial stake in T7 and the Pakatan Harapan government’s decision not to cancel the ECRL project despite earlier reports stating the contrary, saying they are “mischievous” and intended to embarrass him and the new government.

“Despite such clarifications by the prime minister and the finance minister, scurrilous and baseless allegations of impropriety still seem to be making their rounds in the news and social media,” he said.

Tan added that he felt it necessary to release the statement to clarify his position and refute any allegations or suggestions of impropriety or cronyism on the part of the government and Dr Mahathir.

He also denies investing in a financial start-up that has developed Bitcoin Formula, a trading platform promoting blockchain and crypto technologies.

“There is also a Facebook article claiming that I will be donating RM525 million to Tabung Harapan. There is absolutely no truth to either of these reports and I believe they have been put out by unscrupulous persons to deceive the public,” he said.

T7 shares surged as much as 34.5% in early trade on Monday at 50 sen, up 19.1% or eight sen from last Friday’s closing. The stock closed down 0.5 sen or 1% at 49.5 sen yesterday, with a market capitalisation of RM207.63 million. The counter has risen 26.9% over the past year.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on June 27, 2018.

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