MELBOURNE: Australian federal police officers seized computers and files from a house in Vermont South on Thursday as part of investigations into the purchases of properties by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara).
It is learnt that several other properties in and around Melbourne were also targetted in the investigations.
The investigations – Opeation Carambola – were in response to a scheme using multi-million dollar properties to launder funds and kickbacks.
Mara Inc’s top officials, including chairman Datuk Mohammad Lan Allani, were named in a report by an Australian Daily over bribery allegations in relation to the property deals.
An online portal said that while corruption links to property purchases in Australia by foreign nationals have generated significant political interest, this is the first time that police have launched a full-blown operation.
It was reported that fraud was detected in the inflated the price of Dudley House in Melbourne.
Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa said allegations of the inflated price were outside the knowledge of Mara.
He said the purchase was made before his appointment but he “found a few things” last year during a site visit and raised the matter at Mara’s council.
The Dudley House apartment block in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield was bought by Mara in 2013.
A report said the investigations cover about A$80mil worth of Australian property, including office or apartment blocks in Swanston, Queen and Exhibition streets in Melbourne’s CBD.
It said the alleged criminal scheme was uncovered by tracing the purchase of tens of millions of dollars of Australian properties via tax-haven shelf companies in the British Virgin Islands and Singapore.
It said property records and confidential emails revealed that A$4.75mil bribe was asked in return for guaranteeing that funds would be available to purchase the building.
The bribe was paid via sham invoices for non-existent services, including “professional advice” and “consultancy fees,” the report said.