PETALING JAYA, June 2 — A telecommunications company senior executive received a rude shock when he was handed a box of chocolates filled with cash, believed to be “tens of thousands of ringgit” by an international supplier.
He tried returning the “gift” to the supplier’s country manager but was turned down. The senior executive then informed his bosses and lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
MACC confirmed it received the report and was investigating ZTE Malaysia Sdn Bhd and the country manager, a Chinese national, who had since left the country. The company is a subsidiary of ZTE Ltd that is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Sources said the two men had dinner at an upmarket restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and at the end of the meal, the ZTE country manager passed a gift to the senior executive, telling him it was a box of chocolates.
When the senior executive returned home and opened the wrapped gift, he was shocked to find money. The exact amount is unknown but insiders revealed it was believed to be tens of thousands of ringgit.
Sources said the two men had discussed new contract terms for a project and the country manager tried to persuade the senior executive to accept his company’s terms.
They said the country manager left the country not long after the senior executive tried to return the money.
The two companies enjoyed a close working relationship as ZTE had obtained an exclusive supply contract several years ago. Sources said the alleged attempted bribery was to extend and vary the present contract.
It was learnt that following the incident, the telecommunications company was reviewing all past contracts with ZTE to see if there was any bribery involved. MACC director of investigations Datuk Mustafar Ali confirmed the investigation.
“MACC will take action and investigations are being carried out. Whenever it involves issues and information on corruption, malpractices and abuse of power, we will take action even if the person concerned has left the country,” he said.
No one from ZTE Malaysia was willing to comment about the incident.
According to documents seen by Malay Mail, ZTE, had in a memo issued by its legal affairs department to all business units, termed the case as personal misconduct by the country manager and that he had been demoted by four levels with his salary cut accordingly.
The country manager was transferred to head operations in Malaysia a year ago. He joined ZTE in 2000.
According to the documents, the country manager’s direct superior had also been punished by having his three-month bonus forfeited.
This is not the first bribery incident involving ZTE as industry sources said several other telecommunications companies around the world had banned ZTE from participating in any tender exercise.
In 2008, Telenor Group banned ZTE from participating in any new projects for six months after it found out that a ZTE representative allegedly bribed an executive from its company.
ZTE, founded in China in 1985, is a provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions with operations in 160 countries worldwide.