FGV seeks clarification from US Customs and Border Protection on withhold release order

PETALING JAYA: FGV Holdings Bhd said it has sought clarification from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over the withhold release order (WRO) on its palm oil products imposed on Sept 30 and the steps expected for its revocation.

According to the group’s Bursa disclosure, the US agency, during a conference call on Oct 8, could not reveal any of its findings which led to the action with the exception that it had identified the 11 International Labour Organization (ILO) indicators of forced labour in FGV’s practices.

The CBP also did not disclose any further information about its findings including the nature or locations of any incidence linked to such indicators.

However, the CBP informed FGV it would consider a petition for the revocation of the WRO together with information or reports arising from audits from credible, unbiased, third party auditing firms.

“In relation to this, FGV is already in communication with several independent organisations to explore options for an imminent audit of FGV’s operations. FGV expects to finalise the appointment of such audit firm in the next couple of weeks and to proceed with the audits shortly after,” FGV said.

It reiterated that it is committed to taking all necessary steps and measures towards the revocation of the WRO.

In addition, the group expressed its appreciation to the CBP for its readiness to discuss the matter.

Simultaneously, FGV stated that it remains committed to the implementation of its action plan under its affiliation with the Fair Labor Association (FLA).

It highlighted that the action plan underscores the group’s commitment to the esponsible recruitment of migrant workers, strengthening of grievance mechanisms, regularisation of undocumented migrant workers, improving monitoring systems and remediation and enhancing stake-holder engagement, among other things.

The group stated that its next progress report for the implementation of the action plan is slated to be published on March 31, 2021.

In a separate exchange filing, FGV said it had received an expression of interest from Perspective Lane (M) Sdn Bhd (PLSB) to participate in FGV via an injection of plantation assets into FGV, for share consideration.

PLSB would potentially become the single largest shareholder of FGV upon completion.

“The board had decided on Oct 15 to deliberate upon the matter and has resolved to explore and evaluate the proposition. The board wishes to assure shareholders and key stakeholders that it will discharge its fiduciary duty in any such deliberation,” it said.

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