PUTRAJAYA, Feb 6 2020 : Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today defended AirAsia over allegations of corruption involving the airline and Airbus.
He said it is normal to ask for an “offset” in business dealings provided the money is not taken for personal use.
Dr Mahathir said even the government would ask for an offset when making purchases.
“For instance, when we buy planes we will ask for an offset. Whether you consider an offset as bribery, it is up to you, ” he told the media after a session with Education Ministry staff here.
Dr Mahathir, who was asked to comment on the allegations against AirAsia also questioned why an offset should not be accepted when making a purchase on a high-priced item.
In business, an offset is when losses in one business are made up for by increases in another, or when payments due and owed are used to cancel each other in accounting.
It was reported that Airbus will pay a series of settlements including nearly €1bil (RM4.5bil) to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office after admitting to corrupt practices in its past international business.
Legal documents attached to the settlement claimed that Airbus paid millions of ringgit to sponsor a sports team linked to AirAsia and AirAsiaX executives.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Securities Commission have opened investigations into the corruption allegations.
AirAsia Group Bhd had denied the allegations of and on Tuesday, its founders Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and Tan Sri Tony Fernandes temporarily relinquished their executive posts to facilitate investigations.
Kamarudin is the airline’s executive chairman and Fernandes its chief executive officer.