Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Group to lodge report with Australian authorities over Mara Melbourne deal

Published: 1 July 2015 8:35 AM
Malaysians in Australia will be taking the allegedly fraudulent actions of Mara in the purchase of property in Melbourne, to the relevant authorities as they see the Malaysian police not doing anything to investigate the money laundering aspect of the deal. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, July 1, 2015.


Malaysians in Australia will be taking the allegedly fraudulent actions of Mara in the purchase of property in Melbourne, to the relevant authorities as they see the Malaysian police not doing anything to investigate the money laundering aspect of the deal. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, July 1, 2015.






















A group of Malaysians based in Australia will lodge complaints with the authorities there over Majlis Amanah Rakyat's (Mara) purchase of an apartment block in Melboune.
The group, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia in Australia (SABM Australia), said the authorities included the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Australian Taxation Office.
The group said FIRB should investigate how its foreign ownership threshold was circumvented and the Reserve Bank should probe how monies alleged to be bribes in the millions was remitted overseas with such ease.
"To this end, with the support of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) in Malaysia, SABM Australia will lodge complaints with the relevant authorities in Australia to prompt investigation."
SABM Australia said if the claims were proven to be true, the "corrupt officials and their dirty money" would have contributed to driving up Australian property prices.
"This supports the Australian Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey’s concern about foreign funds flowing into an already overheated property market which prompted Mr Hockey to call for stricter investigations into foreign property investors earlier this year."

The group said Australia's investigations were crucial as Malaysian authorities appeared to be disinterested in probing the case.
It cited as an example Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar's statement that the police would not probe Mara for now as elements of criminal breach of trust (CBT) had yet to be found.
"This is surprising as the act is not merely a question of criminal breach of trust. The parties involved are clearly being alleged to have contravened anti-money laundering legislation.
"It is astounding that the Malaysian police are in haste to declare that they will not be involved in investigations without first looking at the money laundering angle," said SABM Australia.
The group added that the effectiveness of Malaysia's investigations were seen to be questionable, given Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's alleged role in the purchase.
"The scandal has cast Malaysians in Australia in poor light. The Malaysian image has certainly been taking a battering in Australia in recent times especially since the authorities’ handling of Malaysian Airlines tragedies last year.
"We do not need corrupt officials to erode what’s left of our image. Left unchecked, Tourism Malaysia’s sloganeering, 'Malaysia Truly Asia' may soon paint a completely different picture of what the region has to offer."
In its expose of the overpriced purchase by Mara of an apartment block in Melbourne, Australian daily The Age had reported that “a group of super-rich Malaysian officials” overpaid by A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million) for the property in 2013.
The trio had allegedly “overbid” for Dudley International House, from A$17.8 million to A$22.5 million (RM65.3 million), with the difference pocketed as bribes back home.
MACC said last week several people had been called up for questioning and that investigation was ongoing.
Its deputy commissioner of operations, Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull, reportedly said the anti-graft body received information on the matter some time in March and proceeded with profiling the individuals involved in the alleged irregularities.
Following that, he said the Australian police paid a visit to MACC's office in May where both parties exchanged information and started the probe.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, in a statement on Sunday, called on all parties, including politicians, not to prejudge investigations into the matter.
The independent body said MACC should be given room to conduct a full and thorough investigation. It also urged all parties to be patient, and refrain from making statements on the issue. – July 1, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/group-to-lodge-report-with-australian-authorities-over-mara-melbourne-deal#sthash.29a0Zomi.dpuf

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