#Update 3* CHGS founder gets 99% votes to end oil palm scheme

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 8): An overwhelming majority of Country Heights Growers Scheme (CHGS) shareholders adopted the resolution to terminate a failed oil palm scheme early after a long drawn heated debate and voting today.

The resolution was passed with 98.98% votes cast in favour of the move at an extra-ordinary general meeting today. This was equivalent to RM57.26 million worth of shares being cast.

After the results were announced, founder of the investment scheme Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew said, "I'm happy that everyone is happy. This is not about my reputation, but about my responsibility to the growers."

Lee said that he will put CHGS plantation land up for an open tender to sell it as soon as possible. He added that his “goodwill” offer would be an outright net loss for him.

"As far as investors go, they are unhappy that the scheme did not work in the long term. Nevertheless, they are happy they can get back their money quickly. It is a fair deal," said J.D. Menon, representative for the shareholders at the EGM.

Many shareholders were also eager to take Lee’s "goodwill" offer and cut their losses.

Immediately after the meeting, founder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew sent a letter of undertaking to the media to state that he will honour his verbal promise on the “goodwill” offer.

Lee's “goodwill” offer is to return 90% of shareholder's capital to them within six months, as well as a RM25 million payout which works out to be 11.6% yield.

Lee's offer was seen by many shareholders as an easy way out of the failing scheme. But many did not get to know what they came for – an answer on the scheme's failure.

Earlier at the meeting, Lee had evaded questions calling for him to explain the failure of the scheme at Gua Musang, Kelantan. After the results were out, he maintained silence on this when approached by theedgemalaysia.com.

"I don't want to talk about why the yield is so bad. I just want to establish that the bad yield is the trust, so shareholders can determine if they want to terminate the scheme," said Lee amid a tensed meeting with disgruntled shareholders.

In the morning, Lee also encountered resistance from a small pocket of shareholders who were dissatisfied with the last minute nature of Lee's offer. They called for the vote to be postponed to a later date so that Lee's offer could be included in the circular.

Lee however noted that his offer was made strictly in his personal capacity and not part of the resolution today. On top of that, his “goodwill” package is conditional upon the resolutions being passed today.

Some shareholders said that they felt bullied into making the decision, but were contented with the offer as it would allow them to get their money back sooner.

After a long three-hour meeting peppered with emotionally charged discussions, more than 1,500 shareholders cast their votes.

"If I can recover all my capital, it is enough for me. Including the RM25 million sweetener and the yield I have been collecting since the scheme started, my investment has returned about 60%," one shareholder told the Edge.

Some other shareholders were skeptical about Lee's personal guarantee to return the funds promptly, but Lee insisted that he would be able to pay the monies back to shareholders.

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