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Melbourne Property Scam: MARA Holds Internal Audit, Assists MACC

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KUALA LUMPUR – Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) is conducting an internal audit and assisting the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s investigation on its subsidiary, Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd, over allegations of a property scam in Melbourne involving its senior officers.

Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the audit and the MACC probe, both which had commenced several weeks ago were still ongoing.

He said Mara had acquired the 30,279 square feet Dudley International House of five-storey building after March 2013 to accommodate students in 112 rooms.

“Mara Inc had bought it from the developer at a fair price and it was supported by property reports from a credited professional international valuer.

“We realised the property was bought at a highly inflated price after a news report from Australia’s newspaper, The Age, came out yesterday,” he told a press conference on the allegations, here, Wednesday.

The Age reported that a top MARA officer, senior official and former politician had allegedly spent millions in government funds to buy an apartment block in Melbourne in a property scam.

The Australian newspaper alleged that “a group of super-rich Malaysian officials” overpaid by A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million) for an apartment block in the city in 2013.

The trio had allegedly “overbid” for the building, called Dudley International House, from A$17.8 million to A$22.5 million (RM65.3 million), with the difference pocketed as bribes back home.

Dudley International House is a student hostel, bought by MARA, which provides scholarships to Malaysians studying overseas.

Following the report, Annuar said Mara Inc had been instructed to produce its interim audit report over the acquisition within seven days from today.

He said within 14 days, Mara would hold its council meeting to discuss further action to be taken as well as to discuss suspension for its senior officers, if found involved in the scam.

Annuar said Mara Inc was formed in 2008 to find investment opportunites in in the domestic and international property markets.

He explained that the purchase of Dudley International House was in accordance with Mara’s procedure and based on the official report, the price was fair in comparison with the market value and would generate a good yield.

The proposed purchase had to go through several layers of approval from Mara’s investment Panel Committee, the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, Finance Ministry and finally from the National Economic Council, which is chaired by the prime minister.

Annuar said that after the approvals, the payment of the purchase for the building was made.

“The purchase was made according to the procedure and the scam was beyond our knowledge,” he said.

However, Mara did detect discrepancies in the purchase prior to the news report and had instructed to hold an internal audit of all its subsidiaries with the cooperation of the MACC.

Annuar said other than the Dudley International House purchase, Mara also found several suspected scams involving its other subsidiaries during the audit.

He said action would be taken against those involved and assured the public that Mara’s integrity was still intact.

“There is no cover-up and we will ensure our integrity is still high,” he said.

He added that Mara’s property investment in the United Kingdom and Australia were currently doing well, generating revenue totalling RM600 million. – Bernama

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