BANGI, July 6 — Rather than losing money, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal insisted today that a property investment unit of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) had raised the federal agency’s assets by some RM45 million with its Melbourne purchases now the focus on a corruption investigation.
To support his claim, Shafie cited from an international valuation report on the properties he said MARA Inc had conducted on the properties in 2012 and 2013.
“All the purchases were made was lower than the current value of the properties, which brought profit to MARA Inc.
“So we are not losing any money. We stand to make money,” Shafie told reporters at MARA’s break-of-fast event here this evening.
The valuations for MARA Inc were conducted by Raine and Horne International, an established Australian property valuator, the minister said.
Even if MARA Inc settles the bank loan for the purchase with interest for the Dudley International House sale, the company would have more than A$150,000 to spare, Shafie added.
The Semporna MP said the recent “temporary leave” order on two MARA Inc officials, Datuk Mohammad Lan Allani and Datuk Abd Halim Rahim, does not mean that they are guilty or were being punished for their involvement in the controversial property buy.
“This is not a punishment. When the allegations are made, it is proper that they are rested for us to complete the investigations,” Shafie said.
Shafie was responding to allegations from the PKR-linked National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW) which has been scrutinising MARA Inc’s Melbourne purchases after Australian daily The Age ran an exposé last month incriminating the government agency’s top officials and several well-connected Malaysian businessmen with million-dollar kickbacks.
Last Tuesday, NOW alleged that apart from Dudley House, which MARA Inc reportedly bought for RM67.2 million, the firm also bought three other properties — 746 Swanston Street for RM138.6 million, 333 Exhibition Street for RM99.2 million and 51 Queens Street for RM70.4 million.
The total sum paid for all four properties was RM375.4 million, the oversight body led by PKR’s Rafizi Ramli revealed.
Pandan MP Rafizi said last week that the four property purchases were suspicious as they were either bought through an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands or wired through three different companies in three different countries.
MORE TO COME