Nothing wrong in seeking an offset, says Dr M

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad wonders why getting something in return when purchasing an item at a high price could not be accepted.

PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that asking for an offset in a business transaction is a normal practice, provided the money is not pocketed.

The prime minister said normally when the government procures equipment, they would ask for an offset.

“And whether you regard an offset as a bribery, that’s up to you,” he told reporters after an event here.

Mahathir was asked to comment on corruption allegations involving budget airline AirAsia and Airbus.

Reports citing legal documents alleged that Airbus paid US$50 million (RM204 million), and offered US$55 million more, to sponsor a sports team linked to two unnamed “key decision-makers” at AirAsia and AirAsia X.

The documents are part of a multi-billion dollar settlement reached with anti-graft authorities in Britain, France and the US, after the European plane maker admitted to bribery in its international business.

AirAsia Group Berhad has rejected the claims.

But Mahathir wondered why getting something in return when purchasing an item at a high price could not be accepted

“If the money goes into our pocket, that is corruption. But if the money is channelled to other things, it is an offset.

“That is my personal view.”

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Securities Commission are both probing the matter.