KUALA LUMPUR – June 24, 2015: Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) has known about what could be a shady deal in the purchase of an apartment block in Melbourne since last year.
Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa, disclosing this today, said the deal has been audited since two months ago.
Speaking at a press conference today, Annuar said that concerns over the matter had arisen after his visit to the purchased Dudley International House last year.
An Australian daily, The Age reported the suspected shady deal, claiming that Malaysians linked to Mara had overpaid the developers of Dudley International House by A$4.75 million for a five-storey apartment block in the city in 2013.
The asking price was A$22.5 million (RM65.3 million).
The daily reported that corporate records had revealed the firms that issued sham invoices were “closely linked to several powerful Malaysian figures, including a top Mara official”.
Annuar said he had given Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd (Mara Inc) seven days to hand in a detailed report on the claims made by The Age and within 14 days, Mara will decide on the next course of action.
He also said during his visit of the property in Melbourne, he had highlighted a few things on the purchase.
“And from then on, Mara kept a close watch on the transaction.
“Our subsidiary, Mara Inc that is in charge of the deal has been audited for two months and the audit is still ongoing,” he said.
Annuar added that the internal audit is conducted by Mara’s Integrity Unit which is chaired by Malaysian Anti Corruption Committee (MACC) official.
He also said that the audit is not only centered on the apartment purchase but also to investigate the Mara Inc’s management in general.
Annuar also welcomed the MACC or other independent bodies to look into the deal.
Besides the audit, Annuar said he has also instructed Mara Inc’s management to respond to the report by The Age on the transaction yesterday.
Despite realising the suspicious deal, Annuar said Mara was not aware of the supposedly inflated price of the property by A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million).
“The purchase was done using the standard operating procedure in-line with the government’s requirements.
“The billing that was submitted in 2012 had been approved by Mara Inc before the end of the year.
“The proposal was then forwarded to Mara in March 2013 before being submitted to the Rural and Regional Development Ministry,” he told the press.
He added that the deal was later approved by the Economic Council that was chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Commenting on the use of a shelf company, based in Singapore as reported by The Age, to wire the A$4.75 million, Annuar admitted that it was not a standard procedure.
He also refuted the allegation that Erwan Azizi, who supposedly introduced the property to Mara was actually the agency’s employee.
Erwan is the son of Datuk Ahmad Azizi who is one of the apartment’s developers besides Datuk Yusof Ghani and Australians Chris Dimitriou and Peter Millis.
Annuar however declined to comment on the status of the Mara Inc chairman Datuk Mohammad Lan Alanni and chief executive Datuk Halim Rahman who were the ones spearheading the deal for Mara.
“Halim came to me yesterday and explained the situation but I will wait for his official report before disclosing the content of the impromptu meeting,” he said.
The Age had reported that the liquidation proceedings lodged in the Victorian Supreme Court after John Bond and Pitcher Partners’ intervention provide further evidence that the A$4.75 million was paid as bribes.
It also had quoted Dimitriou who replied to the court: “To the best of my knowledge, that A$4.8 million went to Malaysian parties”.
Mills on the other hand said he was not told that the deal involved elements of corruption.
The report further alleged that “Malaysian officials from Mara have also used other shelf companies in Singapore to purchase properties in Queens Street and Exhibition Street in Melbourne’s Central Business District for around A$40 million (RM115 million).