Corporate Lawyer charged with inside trading


KUALA LUMPUR: A corporate lawyer involved in almost all major corporate deals in the country has been charged in the Sessions Court here with seven counts of insider trading involving Sime Darby, UEM, VADS and Maxis shares.

Datuk E. Sreesanthan,(pix), 52, who has been practising for more than two decades, is the second high-profile figure to be charged this week after Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubair Murshid, who was brought to court by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Zubair, the former Sime Darby Bhd president and group chief executive officer, was charged on July 17 with two counts of committing criminal breach of trust over land in Sarawak, incurring losses of over RM100mil.

Sreesanthan appeared calm while sitting outside the courtroom on Friday for about 30 minutes before Securities Commission (SC) prosecutors determined which court to charge him in.

The lawyer, who was dressed in a black suit and checked shirt, claimed trial to the seven charges, read as three different cases to reflect the different shares involved and time frame in which they were alleged to have been committed.

Sreesanthan is accused of buying shares while in possession of information that was not generally available, which on becoming generally available, a reasonable person would expect to have a material effect on the price and value.

He allegedly bought the shares using insider information, which would have given him the benefit that the share price would change before that information became public.

The alleged offences occurred at Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad, at Bukit Kewangan here between Oct 9, 2006 and April 27, 2008.

Under the first three charges, Sreesanthan is alleged to gave acquired 75,000 units of Sime Darby Berhad shares while in possession of insider information on the proposed acquisition of several real estate and plantation companies by Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd between Oct 9 and Nov 12, 2006.

In the next two charges, he is accused of insider information involving 250,000 units of Maxis Communication Bhd shares on the proposed conditional take-over by Binariang GSM Sdn Bhd to acquire all the voting shares in Maxis and Maxis’ proposed privatisation between April 25 and 27, 2007.

Under the sixth and seventh charges, he is accused of buying 200,000 units of UEM World Berhad and 100,000 units of VADS Berhad shares while in possession of insider information on Feb 13 and Sep 18, 2008, respectively.

If convicted under the Securities Industry Act 1983 and Capital Market and Services Act 2007, Sreesanthan could be fined a minimum of RM1mil and jailed up to 10 years.

SC prosecutor DPP Rosmawar Rozain said the offences were non-bailable but urged the court to set it at RM500,000 for each case if it used its discretion to offer bail.

“The investigation into the case has taken some time and expense,” said Rosmawar, adding it was a serious offence and that the court should force Sreesanthan to surrender his passport.

Counsel M. Puravalen said the prosecution had not put forward any factor that his client was a possible flight risk.

He said his client was a family man holding a steady job in his law firm, and had been practising law for 23 years.

“The bail amount should not be excessive,” said Puravalen, who proposed bail be set at RM50,000 for each case.

The prosecution applied for a joint trial of the three cases but the defence asked for a deferred decision as it had not received instructions from Sreesanthan.

Sessions judge Jagjit Singh set bail at RM300,000 for all the charges and ordered Sreesanthan to surrender his passport.

He fixed Sept 20 for case management in three separate courts.

By QISHIN TARIQ The Star 21 July 2012

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China pledges to work with ASEAN to safeguard peace in South China Sea


BEIJING: China pledged Friday to make joint efforts with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to safeguard regional peace and stability after the 10-member bloc issued a six-point statement on the South China Sea.

“The Chinese side is willing to work together with the ASEAN members to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) comprehensively and effectively,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in response to a question on the ASEAN statement.

In the statement issued earlier on Friday, the ASEAN members reaffirmed their commitment to the “peaceful resolution of disputes” in the South China Sea. Analysts said the six-point principles were reached to make up for the lack of a customary communique after a foreign ministers’ meeting last week.

In an unprecedented development, the 45th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the ASEAN was not wrapped up with the release of a communique showcasing common ground.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies, told Xinhua that it was Vietnam and the Philippines that should be blamed for the failure to pass a communique last week.

“The two countries attempted to turn the disputes between them and China into a problem between China and ASEAN as a whole,” he said, “which was unacceptable for the other members of the bloc.”

“The Chinese side has noticed the ASEAN’s statement on the South China Sea (on Friday),” Hong said, adding that the core problem of the South China Sea was the disputes over the sovereignty of the Nansha islands and the demarcation of the islands’ adjacent waters.

“China has sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence for its sovereignty over the Nansha islands and the adjacent waters,” he added.

However, Hong said China is open to consultations with the ASEAN on the conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

“(We) hope that all the parties will strictly abide by the DOC and create necessary conditions and atmosphere for the consultations,” he said.

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China attaches importance to safeguarding the principles and mission of the Convention, said the spokesman.

Hong said UNCLOS is aimed to establish a legal order for the seas and oceans “with due regard for the sovereignty of all States,” and it does neither serve as an international treaty to address disputes over territorial sovereignty between states nor as evidence used to judge over the disputes.

The countries concerned should address the disputes over the maritime demarcation in the South China Sea, after the land disputes have been resolved, in accordance with historical facts and all international laws including UNCLOS, he added.

“China attaches importance to its ties with the ASEAN,” Hong said, adding the country is committed to promoting friendly neighborhood and reciprocal cooperation with the ASEAN to push ahead with the cooperation in East Asia with joint efforts.

The spokesman said China and ASEAN share common interests and responsibilities in keeping Asia’s development and maintaining regional peace and stability against the backdrop of the ongoing international financial crisis.

“The two sides should continue to promote their strategic communication in pursuit of a reciprocal and win-win situation, with mutual respect and trust in mind as well as handle the relationship between the two sides from strategic and long-term perspective,” he added.

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China to deploy military garrison in South China Sea

GUANGZHOU, July 20 (Xinhua) — China’s central military authority has approved to form and deploy a military garrison in the newly established city of Sansha.

Sources with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Guangzhou Military Command said Friday that the Central Military Commission (CMC) had authorized it to form a garrison command in the city.Full story

ASEAN forum not proper platform to discuss South China Sea issue

BEIJING, July 11 (Xinhua) — As the foreign ministers of the 27 participating parties of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meet in Phnom Penh on Thursday, many eye the talks as a platform to ease the tension over the South China Sea, which has flared up in recent months.

However, analysts say the attending parties are likely to be more interested in forging closer ties than focusing on differences that concern only a few members.Full story

Editor: Chen Zhi, Xinhua

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Asean has no reason to panic

Asean has no reason to panic


Asean is younger than its member nations, so teething problems as it continues to mature are no cause for alarm

ASEAN’S set pieces following its meetings have become so predictable as to provoke panic when a blip in the set routine appears unexpectedly.

That happened with the anticipated joint communique following the ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh a week ago. This was the first time a communique was not issued, after disagreement over the text between the Philippines and host Cambodia on Manila’s territorial squabble with Beijing.

That was enough to set tongues wagging, pens wriggling and keyboards clacking about a presumed “turning point” in Asean and even speculation about its imminent demise.

Asean proceedings have traditionally been weighed down by diplomatic gobbledygook just because everyone expects such statements to be issued. What later happens in the conduct of member states, however removed from the spirit and content of the communiques, then becomes quite irrelevant.

Yet the substance of statements issued should be more important than the fact of issuing just any statement. After all, Asean is supposed to be more about political process than mere diplomatic procedure.

Therefore, not issuing a collective statement after this month’s pow wow among foreign ministers is better than issuing a meaningless statement just for the sake of issuing something. It makes no sense to produce a statement in the absence of a joint agreement about what it would say.

As it happened, not issuing a joint communique amounts to an indirect statement on the different positions taken by some members, in this case the hotly disputed claims on island territory between the Philippines (and to some extent Vietnam) and China.

Ironically, the Phnom Penh meeting was supposed to consolidate efforts at establishing an Asean community by 2015, as well as to reaffirm blossoming relations between Asean and China.

It may have failed at delivering either, but simply deviating from the norm by not perpetuating a scripted, choreographed and rehearsed custom regardless of circumstances is not a failure of Asean. Nonetheless, the apparent detour from the objectives of this year’s ministerial meeting was enough to turn surprise into shock for many.

Traditionally criticised for saying little and doing even less with boring predictability, Asean is suddenly seen as risking the unprecedented. Its critics should now make up their mind about the nature of their criticism, because they are beginning to contradict themselves.

The other irony concerns the Asean style itself. The regional organisation has long been assessed less by what it says in communiques than what it leaves unsaid, and understood less by what it does than what it obliquely skirts doing.

Thus going by its record, the decision not to issue a communique may be deemed doubly and traditionally Asean. Yet it was taken to be untypical of Asean.

Cynics predicting doom-and-gloom scenarios for Asean forget that its watchword has always been “resilience”, as supported by its near-half-century record. Asean is made of sterner stuff, to which its experience testifies.

But Asean is also not immune to the pitfalls of complacency. Failure to do what is needed now can escalate current challenges and lead to more problems in the future.

For what it is worth, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono swiftly dispatched Foreign Minister Dr Marty Natalegawa to four Asean capitals, including Kuala Lumpur, to try to cobble together some kind of a belated joint communique.

That may be possible but unlikely, since foreign ministers who refused to be accommodating while together at an official meeting would be even less inclined to compromise when back home. Even if such a statement materialises, it would just be “in absentia” of the assembled ministers, now dispersed, and not a statement “posthumous” of Asean.

Meanwhile, news and commentary about the lack of a communique have overshadowed the issues behind it. And it is not only the absence of a communique that can be seen as untypical of Asean.

Manila and Hanoi had come into the meeting room after a recent diplomatic spat with China over competing territorial claims. Despite the ministerial meeting covering various other matters, the Philippines and Vietnam insisted that their problems with China be included in the text of the joint communique.

Cambodia, as host, refused as it saw this as unbecoming and inappropriate. Only half of the 10 Asean members have disputes over island territory with China, with the dispute in question over Scarborough Shoal/Huangyan Island involving only one Asean country, the Philippines.

Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario then openly accused his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong of “consistently defending China’s interest.” Point number two in being untypically Asean.

The ill will created extends beyond the scope of any Asean conference. Its import and impact have already spread beyond the few countries involved.

No country can claim victory or savour any sense of satisfaction from these developments, because they work to the detriment of all. There is also the additional risk of some countries misreading the situation to even worse effect.

China had a pie in the face when it began the conference, as an Asean dialogue partner, by celebrating the new priority of taking relations with Asean to greater heights. If it is seeking any consolation from a divided Asean, it will find itself gravely mistaken.

The Philippines is also finding that it has fewer “allies” in this imbroglio than it would have liked. Thailand had already warned it would not let bilateral differences with China upset regional ties with Beijing, while a caucus of retired diplomats in Indonesia criticised the Philippines for being “blunt” and “very un-Asean.”

The other Asean countries are not exactly behind Manila, and likewise some Filipino commentators. Even Vietnam, despite its inter-state disputes with China, has always had quieter, positive inter-party ties as fellow communist nations.

In contrast, the Philippines has only a treaty with the US. That can make matters worse through emboldening Manila in rash actions, or initiating major power conflict in the region.

Now President Benigno Aquino III has passed the handling of the issue from del Rosario to Ambassador Sonia Brady in Beijing to handle more diplomatically. A sense of realism may yet dawn after all.

In the meantime, changes in the region include some that question old ideological allegiances. Diplomats and policymakers need to be sensitive to such developments to respond accordingly.

Not only does Vietnam have serious differences with China, Myanmar may also begin to do so on separate bilateral matters. At the same time, Taiwan increasingly feels at one with China over claims on territory disputed by other countries, such as the one with the Philippines.

Beyond all the conflicting claims, some realities remain.

Asean is only 45 years old as a regional organisation in the global community of nations, so more differences between members are likely to appear in future. These should not be a problem as long as they are manageable.

Disputes are also best settled, or can only be settled, through negotiations or arbitration. Souring the atmosphere by making diplomacy difficult only makes things worse for everyone.

With China, it has been said that upping the ante only strengthens the hand of hardliners in Beijing. Most Asean countries are wise enough to steer clear of that approach, however much of a rush it may give some politicians playing to the gallery at home.

Behind The Headlines By BUNN NAGARA

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Asean needs to rise to its own loftier level

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