Thursday 22 Feb 2024
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Note: The article has been amended to take into account the preference shares issued by the company which was omitted in the earlier version. The error is regretted.

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 12): Low-cost carrier MYAirline Sdn Bhd was seen as a promising airline, filling the void left by incumbent players which were forced to quickly shrink, cut routes and ground hundreds of planes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting with three Airbus A320s in December 2022, it had outlined ambitious plans to grow its fleet to more than 50 planes in five years.

Fast forward 10 months, MYAirline announced on Thursday that it is suspending its flight operations effective immediately until further notice, citing "significant financial pressures". More importantly, this is the first time that it publicly acknowledged that it was cash-strapped amid rumours in recent weeks that MYAirline was in serious financial trouble over allegations of unpaid staff wages, late payment of services providers' dues, and difficulty in raising funds for new aircraft leases.

Who are the people behind MYAirline?

Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) data showed that its director and businessman Datuk Allan Goh Hwan Hua is the airline's single largest shareholder.

SSM data previously showed that international trade consultant Zillion Wealth Bhd had an 88% equity interest in MYAirline and Trillion Cove Holdings Bhd, a money lending and financing company, a 10% stake. Both Zillion Wealth and Trillion Cove named Goh as a director of the companies.

The airline's former chief executive officer (CEO) Rayner Teo Kheng Hock, meanwhile, had owned the remaining 2% of the airline’s shares. 

It is worth noting that in May this year, Trillion Cove was involved in a money laundering case where former Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) CEO Datuk Mohamad Madani Sahari was charged with 12 counts of money laundering totalling RM1.038 million at the Alor Setar Sessions Court in Kedah. Madani has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

For the first 10 charges, Madani was reportedly charged with indirectly engaging in transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activities through his lawyers, Norizan & Associates's Hong Leong Islamic Bank account, amounting to RM1 million.

As for the remaining charges, Madani was accused of receiving fees through illegal transactions amounting to RM19,000 from Trillion Cove, on each charge, accrued from the purchase of RM1 million worth of Redeemable Preference Shares-i.

Meanwhile, Goh is also linked to payment gateway company i-Serve Online Mall Sdn Bhd, one of seven companies that were compounded a total of RM50 million by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) last month, for accepting deposits without a licence. BNM had said that its investigation revealed that between June 2018 and September 2021, the seven entities had accepted deposits from the public and had consequentially engaged directly in transactions that involved proceeds of such illegal deposit-taking activities.

SSM data revealed that Goh held a 31.75% stake in i-Serve Online Mall as at Sept 13, 2023. The other three shareholders were Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khairi Aseh (31.75%), QA  Advance Partnership PLT (20.63%) and Bong Soon Heng (15.87%).

Shareholding changes at MYAirline

Latest records as at Aug 30, 2023 from SSM found that MYAirline now has 15 shareholders, following the issuance of 48 million preference shares.

The number of ordinary shares had also been increased to 32 million from 2 million previously.

The additional 30 million ordinary shares were allotted to Zillion Wealth, bringing its shareholding in MYAirline to 99.25% or 31.76 million shares from 88% or 1.76 million shares previously. Consequently, Trillion Cove's stake had been reduced to 0.625% from 10%, even though the number of ordinary shares it owned remain at 200,000. Goh also holds 750,000 preference shares in MYAirline.

Likewise, Teo's shareholding is now down to 0.125% from 2%, with a total of 40,000 ordinary shares.

The other shareholders allocated preference shares included Lee Siew Hock, Nawal Aeida Asarudin, DAG Express Sdn Bhd, Jalex Sdn Bhd, Ling Ai Lee and Kek Kim Long.

It is worth noting that as at Oct 10, 2023, Zillion Wealth is equally owned by Goh's wife Datin Neow Ean Lee and their son Sean Goh Tze Han, who is a board member of MYAirline. Over at Trillion Cove, Goh owned a 99% stake or 1.98 million ordinary shares, while Florence Anak Juan has an 1% stake or 19,990 ordinary shares in the company, SSM filing showed.

On Sunday (Oct 8), MYAirline announced that it was "in advanced stages of finalising strategic partnerships" amid talks at the time that the carrier was already facing a financial crunch.

On Thursday, Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), which regulates economic and commercial matters relating to civil aviation, said it is currently investigating the airline based on internal reviews and complaints received regarding the airline’s unpaid statutory payments to its employees, among others.

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