‘MACC wrap­ping up probe swiftly’

With re­cent ar­rests, agency hopes for swift com­ple­tion

New Straits Times - - Front Page - BALVIN KAUR GE­ORGE TOWN news@nst.com.my

THE graft­busters, who are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pur­chase of two ho­tels in Lon­don and Kuch­ing by Felda In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, say they ex­pect to bring things to a con­clu­sion soon. So far, nine in­di­vid­u­als have been ar­rested.

THE Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) is wrap­ping up its probe into the pur­chase of two al­legedly over­priced ho­tels by Felda In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion Sdn Bhd (FIC).

MACC Chief Com­mis­sioner Datuk Dzulk­i­fli Ah­mad said this af­ter MACC ar­rested a lawyer and his aide, be­lieved to be in­volved in one of the pur­chases, on Thurs­day.

“With all the ar­rests, we hope that we can wrap up the in­ves­ti­ga­tions swiftly,” he said af­ter wit­ness­ing the sign­ing of the cor­rup­tion-free pledge by the Penang gov­ern­ment. Dzulk­i­fli was re­spond­ing to ques­tions on the progress of the FIC probe.

The duo were re­manded yes­ter­day to fa­cil­i­tate MACC’s probe into FIC’s pur­chase of a lux­ury ho­tel in Kens­ing­ton, Lon­don, be­tween 2013 and 2015, for a to­tal of £60 mil­lion (RM330 mil­lion).

The ho­tel was al­legedly pur­chased at a much higher price than the mar­ket value, caus­ing FIC to lose mil­lions of ring­git. FIC is the in­vest­ment arm of Felda.

It is un­der­stood that the duo were de­tained about

4pm at the MACC head­quar­ters af­ter they were called in for ques­tion­ing.

It was re­ported that the duo, who work at a Kuala Lumpur-based law firm, had been in­volved in man­ag­ing the doc­u­men­ta­tion of the sale and pur­chase agree­ment be­tween the orig­i­nal owner and a third com­pany be­fore it was sold to FIC.

It is un­der­stood that the lawyer had links with the owner of the com­pany that made the ho­tel’s sale and pur­chase trans­ac­tion with FIC.

It was re­ported that the com­pany, which pur­chased the ho­tel at a lower price, had sold it to FIC at above mar­ket price. The com­pany re­port­edly earned £14 mil­lion from the trans­ac­tion.

The re­mand or­der against for­mer FIC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Zaid Ab­dul Jalil, who was ar­rested on July 31 to as­sist in the probe, had been ex­tended for an­other four days start­ing to­day.

Dzulk­i­fli last Fri­day also or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the 2014 pur­chase of a ho­tel in Kuch­ing.

The ho­tel, Merdeka Palace Ho­tel and Suites, was bought by FIC for RM160 mil­lion, be­lieved to be be­tween RM40 mil­lion and RM50 mil­lion higher than its mar­ket value.

The probe was prompted af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion team un­cov­ered in­for­ma­tion while scru­ti­n­is­ing the pur­chase of the ho­tel in Lon­don.

Two days ago, Dzulk­i­fli said the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the two cases were car­ried out ag­gres­sively and in­volved the ex­am­i­na­tion of seized doc­u­ments and state­ments recorded from wit­nesses.

He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had taken time as the case in­volved over­seas trans­ac­tions.

Datuk Dzulk­i­fli Ah­mad

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