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Five detained over Felda sturgeon project

Caviar-making demonstration at a Felda scheme in Mersing in June 2014. -- Bernama photo

Caviar-making demonstration at a Felda scheme in Mersing in June 2014. -- Bernama photo

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Written by Syndicated News

One of the suspects formed a company without the knowledge or approval of the board and also signed an agreement with a South Korean company that was unfavourable to Felda

KUALA LUMPUR — January 24, 2017: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission today detained five people, three serving and two former staff of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), on suspicion of corruption relating to a sturgeon farming project worth RM146.25 million.

According to a source from the MACC, one is a datuk, another a former a deputy director-general, another was based overseas, the other directly involved in the project and one an administrative assistant.

They are suspected to have abused their position for personal gains since 2014.

All were picked up within the Klang Valley under an operation code named Ops Caviar.

The source said that the Felda board at a meeting in January 2013 had asked one of the suspects to submit a detailed report on possible investment in the project.

However, the suspect, without the knowledge of the board or its legal and financial division, set up Felda Carviative Sdn. Bhd. (FCSB) a year later.

He then signed an agreement with a sturgeon farming company in South Korea worth US$45 million (RM146.25 million).

Initial investigations found that the project did not get the approval from the Pahang department of environment and a downpayment was made to the Korean company a week after FCSB was incorporated.

The suspect approved about US$10 million (RM47.6 million) to be paid to the Korean company through FCSB also without the knowledge or approval of the Felda board.

The Auditor-General’s Report Series 2 in 2015 revealed that until June 30 of last year, Felda had yet to obtain returns, assets or technology transfer.

The report noted that sturgeon fish also could not be sent to Malaysia because the aquaculture farm had yet to be built because the Pahang DoE had withdrawn its approval for the project site, citing adverse impact on the
environment.

Sturgeons are primitive fish that have been around for 200 million years. They produce eggs that can be made into high quality black caviar.

The market price for caviar on average is between RM9,000 and RM16,000 a kilo but some varieties can fetch up to hundreds of thousands of ringgit a kilo. — Bernama

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