MARA Chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa is not presenting himself as a model public servant when he refuses to convene an emergency meeting of the MARA Council following the Tuesday expose in Australian daily, The Age, on the MARA Inc. property scams, particularly over the Dudley International House apartment block in Melbourne, which was acquired with A$22.5 million (RM65.4 million) MARA funds, but involving a bribe of A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million), as well as investigations into MARA Inc’s other Australian properties.
Following The Age report, the Australian Federal Police have launched Operation Carambola with raids in Melbourne as part of an international bribery and money-laundering investigation involving high-ranking Malaysian officials, businessmen and the purchase of Melbourne property, seizing computers and files from a home in Vermont South with several other properties targeted across Melbourne.
But it is business as usual in MARA back in Malaysia, although Malaysia has been thrust into the global stage with an international corruption scandal involving a key government statutory body and public servants.
What is most shocking is the rather indifferent reactions of the government authorities, in particular the MARA Chairman who said in a media conference yesterday that MARA will not deny the claims and allegations in the Australian newspaper report and was treating the media expose as “information” to facilitate investigations.
It would appear that Annuar was not surprised at all by the expose in The Age, which completely undermines his claim that he was not aware that the value of Dudley House property had been inflated until he read the reports.
Was Annuar telling the truth and could he be so ignorant about the MARA Inc property scams in Australia?
If Annuar was really utterly unaware that the Dudley House property acquired by Mara Inc had been inflated, with a payment of RM13.8 million bribe, then this is ground enough for Annuar to be sacked as MARA Chairman for sheer incompetence and ineptitude, as it has been reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had started investigations as early as six months ago into irregularities into the purchase of Australian properties by MARA Inc.
With the Australian authorities all-systems go in the Operation Carambola following investigations by the Australian media group, Fairfax Media, into the scheme involving Malaysians using multi-million dollar Australian properties to launder funds and return “kickbacks” to their home countries, MARA and the Malaysian Government cannot continue to adopt a tidak-apa attitude without a major operation of its own to get to the bottom of the Mara Inc. property scams in Australia.
For a start, Annuar should convene an emergency meeting of the MARA Council and demand that the two MARA Inc. executives implicated in the allegations, MARA Inc Chairman Mohd Lan Allani and MARA Inc CEO Halim Rahman should cough out the A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million) bribe paid for the Dudley House apartment block in Melbourne.
Annuar claimed yesterday that the controversial Melbourne real estate deal was made before he was appointed MARA Chairman in July 2013 and that the purchase was discussed in 2012 and approved by the MARA Council on Feb. 21, 2013.
The onus is on Annuar to prove his claim that he had absolutely no knowledge about the MARA Inc property scams after he became MARA Chairman.
There were three other Australian properties bought by MARA Inc – (i) an apartment block on Swanston Street for A$22.5 million; (ii) an office tower on Exhibition Street for A$22 million and (iii) a Queen Street property for A$20 million.
When were the deals for these properties finalized and can Annuar give an assurance that the MARA Inc purchase of these three properties were honest and above-board and not tainted by hanky-panky and crimes like corruption, money-laundering and tax evasions like the Dudley House deal?
At the relevant time of the Mara Inc acquisition of the four Australian properties, the relevant Minister responsible for MARA was and still is Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal who helmed the Ministry of Rural Regional Development since 10th April 2009.
Why the silence from Shafie?
Was he completely in the dark about the MARA Inc property acquisition hanky-panky in Australia, which has now stained Malaysia’s international reputation?
If Annuar is right that the decisions on the MARA Inc property scams in Australia were decided before his time, then his predecessor must speak up.
Why is the MARA Chairman before Annuar, the Education and Higher Learning Minister II, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, so silent about the MARA Inc scandals in Australia?
Furthermore, can Malaysians expect the Cabinet to announce decisions at its meeting today, like the sacking of Annuar as MARA Chairman, to demonstrate to Malaysians and the world that it is taking seriously the international corruption expose of MARA Inc’s corrupt property deals in Australia?