By Emma Victoria
Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMS) deputy group chairman Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib is seeking a leave of absence from all his positions in the group following allegations of conflict of interest involving him and former CMS chief information officer Karl Vink @ Khalid Abdullah.
He said in a statement that the decision was made in the best interest of CMS and all stakeholders, and to enable the authorities to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the allegations.
Abu Bekir decided to seek leave as director of CMS, CMS I-Systems Sdn Bhd, CMS Capital Sdn Bhd, deputy group chairman, chairman of the Digital Transformation Committee and member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee.
“I pledge my utmost cooperation to the authorities so that the investigations can come to a speedy conclusion and for CMS to move forward on our growth path. I look forward to returning from my leave of absence,” he said.
Mahmud Abu Bekir, the son of former Sarawak chief minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, was appointed to the board of CMS as group executive director on Jan 23, 1995 and was redesignated as deputy group chairman on May 22, 2002.
He served as interim group chairman from May 10, 2018 to Oct 1, 2018. He is also a non-independent and non-executive chairman of Sarawak Cable Bhd.
Meanwhile, Karl Vink served as the chief information officer of CMS between June 2018 and September 2020.
The board of CMS said the allegations were received through the group’s whistleblower channel and had reported it to the authorities.
“The board acted immediately to carry out a full investigation to discharge its fiduciary duties to protect the best interest of the company and all stakeholders.
“Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib has voluntarily taken leave of absence from all his positions in the group as to facilitate a full and transparent investigation by the authorities,” it said.
CMS, which began as a cement manufacturing company, had grown to become a one of the largest public listed companies in Sarawak. It is also the sole cement player in Sarawak.
The company is said to be closely linked to Taib and his family.
However, CMS Group Managing Director Datuk Isaac Lugun in a report last year said Taib’s family owned about 23% of the shares while over 50% were held by local and foreign institutions.
“When I first joined the company in 1996, Tun (Taib) family had more than 60% shareholdings. But, currently they have pared down their interest to about 23%, following a strategic restructuring to address the proprietorship status of the company.”
He also said Mahmud Bekir Taib is the only family member who remains on the board and he holds a non-executive capacity as deputy chairman.
All the other executive positions and the subsidiary boards are filled by professionals who bring a wealth of expertise and experience.