SOPPOA appeals to unfreeze bank accounts

KUALA LUMPUR: Oil palm plantation companies in Sarawak which are not involved in logging have had their bank accounts frozen by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). 

Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA) appealed to MACC to unfreeze bank accounts of plantation companies not related to logging activities. 

"We welcome the government's fight against illegal logging and corruption practices associated with illegal logging in Sarawak. 

"We, however, strongly oppose the freezing of bank accounts of plantation companies which are not related to such activities," SOPPOA said in a statement yesterday. 

For the past week, more than 400 officers from MACC and various state government agencies had raided log ponds, sawmills and business premises across the state. 

MACC had also froze banks accounts of companies and individuals amounting to RM560 million. 

Incidentally, some oil palm plantation companies' bank accounts were also frozen by MACC despite them having no relations to logging activities. 

"It appears some of the plantation companies’ bank accounts were frozen by reason that they have common directorships," SOPPOA said. "This indiscriminate freezing bank accounts has caused disruptions to the oil palm operation and undue hardship."

SOPPOA members said they were deeply sadden by this turn of events as these plantation companies would face severe cash flow strain in making payments to their contractors, suppliers and paying salaries to their employees. 

"If workers are not paid, fruits will not be collected which will result in significant losses to the companies, and loss of tax revenue to the government. 

“Many oil palm smallholders are Sarawak natives and this state of affairs will seriously dampen their Gawai celebration next month," SOPPOA said. "We appeal to MACC to urgently lift the freeze of the bank accounts of oil palm plantation companies." 

SOPPOA members pledged full support to the federal and state authorities to charge and prosecute all the companies and individuals found to be involved in illegal logging operations. 

"The provisions under Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 allowing MACC to freeze bank accounts before any charge is made should be cautiously invoked," SOPPOA said.