JO­HOR EXCO MAN HELD IN REAL ES­TATE SCAN­DAL PROBE

Agency seizes cash, car and hand­bags from Latif’s house

New Straits Times - - Front Page - HALIM SAID JO­HOR BARU news@nst.com.my

STATE ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi was held here yes­ter­day for in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) into the Jo­hor real es­tate cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

Latif, who un­til two days ago was in charge of Jo­hor’s hous­ing and lo­cal govern­ment port­fo­lio, was ar­rested af­ter his state­ment was recorded into the case, which re­port­edly in­volved the loss of tens of mil­lions of ring­git of po­ten­tial rev­enue for the state.

MACC deputy chief com­mis­sioner (op­er­a­tions) Datuk Azam Baki con­firmed the ar­rest.

He said in­ves­ti­ga­tions were far from over, although the seven sus­pects who were ear­lier de­tained have been re­leased on MACC bail.

A state­ment is­sued by MACC in Pu­tra­jaya con­firmed the ar­rest and named the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor and the port­fo­lio he held.

MACC said it seized RM41,000, a Toy­ota Vell­fire and 150 hand­bags from Latif ’s house yes­ter­day.

A state­ment said he was ex­pected to be pro­duced at the Jo­hor Baru Ses­sions Court to­day at 8.30am to be re­manded.

“The case is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated un­der Sec­tion 17(a) of the MACC Act and Sec­tion 4 of the An­tiMoney Laun­der­ing, Anti-Ter­ror­ism Fi­nanc­ing and Pro­ceeds of Un­law­ful Ac­tiv­i­ties Act 2001.

“MACC asks all quar­ters to avoid mak­ing any spec­u­la­tion and it has given its guar­an­tee that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be car­ried out in a trans­par­ent man­ner,” said the state­ment.

When com­ment­ing on the ar­rest, Jo­hor Men­teri Be­sar Datuk Seri Mo­hamed Khaled Nordin said he pre­ferred to re­serve com­ments pend­ing the com­ple­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, four of the sus­pects, who were de­tained in con­nec­tion with the real es­tate cor­rup­tion scan­dal, in­clud­ing the son and spe­cial of­fi­cer of the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor, were re­leased on bail.

They were brought be­fore Jo­hor Baru mag­is­trate court regis­trar Saba’aton Daud at 9.30am, and were seen be­ing es­corted out of the court 15 min­utes later af­ter be­ing re­leased on MACC bail.

The four were among six peo­ple, aged 25 to 50, who were ar­rested on Feb 24 fa­cil­i­tate in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the al­leged Jo­hor real es­tate scam.

A sev­enth sus­pect, a 46-yearold con­trac­tor, was de­tained on Feb 28.

MACC froze RM15.5 mil­lion in 45 bank ac­counts and seized 21 lux­ury cars, five high-pow­ered mo­tor­cy­cles and RM500,000 in lo­cal and for­eign cur­ren­cies.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed the sus­pects con­verted the sta­tuses of Bu­mi­put­era houses into non-Bu­mi­put­era houses to sell them at higher prices.

On March 1, the weekly ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor meet­ing chaired by Khaled ap­proved a re­quest from the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor in­volved in the case to go on leave for an un­de­ter­mined amount of time.

On Wed­nes­day, Khaled an­nounced a mi­nor reshuf­fle in­volv­ing the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor’s port­fo­lio, with a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor, Datuk Md Jais Sar­day, tem­po­rar­ily tak­ing over the state hous­ing and lo­cal govern­ment port­fo­lio.

Jais’s cur­rent port­fo­lio for the state ed­u­ca­tion, in­for­ma­tion, en­trepreneur­ship and co­op­er­a­tives de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee were re-del­e­gated among ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lors, Datuk Ayub Rahmat and Is­mail Mo­hamed.

COUR­TESY OF MACC PIC

Hand­bags seized by MACC at Datuk Abd Latif Bandi’s house.

PIC BY MOHD AZREN JA­MALUDIN

MACC of­fi­cers es­cort­ing the four sus­pects re­leased on MACC bail at the mag­is­trate’s court in Jo­hor Baru yes­ter­day.

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