Yesterday, MARA Chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa said MARA Council has given its subsidiary, Mara Incorporated Sdn. Bhd (MARA Inc.) seven days to provide a detailed written explanation on all matters pertaining to various property deals in Australia.
Annuar said he wants not only an account of the purchase of the Dudley Street apartment block in Melbourne raised by the Australian newspaper, the Age, but also a report on the various transactions in Australia.
He said a special meeting will be held within the next two weeks to probe this matter and discuss further action, based on the report to be provided to the council by Mara Inc.
What Annuar is doing is too little and too late.
Faster pro-active action by the MARA Council is demanded, especially as events at the Australian end are developing at a fast pace, with reports that the Australian federal police conducted raids in Melbourne over the property scam purchases linked to Malaysian politicians.
Australian-based daily The Age today reported authorities raided a home in Vermont South, Melbourne this morning and seized computers and files to aid in their investigation.
In addition, the report said several other properties are similarly targeted by police across the city, as part of the Operation Carambola to investigate a scheme “involving Malaysians using multimillion-dollar Australian properties to launder funds and return ‘kickbacks’ to Asia.”
According to The Age there is significant political interest in Australia over alleged corruption links in foreign property purchases in the country, but the raid is the first time the Australian police had launched a full-blow operation.
It is a slur on Malaysia’s international reputation that while Australia has Operation Carambola involving police raids, Malaysia is mounting an “Operation Continued Slumber” giving Mara Inc seven days to give a written explanation while MARA Council is taking its sweet time to meet may be in two weeks although a scandal of first magnitude is blowing up in their faces.
The MARA Council should have convened in emergency meeting over the MARA Inc property purchase scams in Melbourne, instead of waiting for two weeks, and the MARA Inc executives should be hauled up to the MARA Council for a full accounting.
May be the MARA Council should even collectively submit resignation as all the MARA Council members must realise that they had failed MARA and the country in allowing such property scams as exposed by The Age two days ago.
All MARA Council members should even collectilvely resign if they cannot explain why they agreed to the establishment of offshore companies in tax havens to buy properties overseas as if engaged in dubious and dishonourable transactions.
This is one question Annuar Musa does not require seven days to answer: Why the MARA Board agreed to the establishment of offshore companies in tax havens to buy properties overseas as if engaged in dubious and dishonorable transactions?
Mara Inc. bought four properties in Australia – (I) Dudley House at an inflated price of A$22.5 million; (ii) an apartment block on Swanston Street for A$22.5 million; (iii) an office tower on Exhibition Street for A$22 million and (iv) a Queen Street property for A$20 million.
All these four property acquisitions involve highly suspicious front companies in the tax havens of Singapore or the British Virgin Islands.
Annuar must explain why as Chairman he had approved such undesirable and dishonourable practices by Mara Inc.
(Speech at the launching of the Bruce Lee 75th anniversary art exhibition to raise funds for Impian Kelantan held at KB Mall, Kota Baru on Thursday 25th June 2015 at 5 pm)