The AGE report last Tuesday (23 June) 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, has opened up a can of worms of abuses of power, criminal breach of trust and corruption in MARA.
I had earlier asked whether Datuk Seri Annuar Musa would resign as MARA Chairman to take responsibility for MARA’s international corruption scandal and to pioneer a culture of responsibility for government leaders and captains of statutory boards and corporations.
In his response on Saturday, Annuar said there was no need for him to quit over the allegations of corruption of MARA’s property purchases in Australia, as his term as MARA chairperson would expire in two weeks’ time.
True, Annuar’s tenure as MARA Chairman ends on July 18, but the events of the past eight days since The Age expose last Tuesday seem to point inexorably to one conclusion: that Annuar should be sacked as MARA Chairman as he has failed the mission entrusted to him to fulfil the MARA Vision to ensure that under his chairmanship, MARA is an “outstanding organization of trust, upholding the nation’s pride” and spearhead new breakthroughs for bumiputeras in the fields of entrepreneurship, education and investment.
The abuses, malpractices and criminal offences in the MARA property scams in Australia are gross violations of the MARA Vision to be “an outstanding organization of trust, upholding the nation’s pride” – as under Annuar‘s chairmanship, MARA has degenerated into a “disgraceful organisation in criminal breach of trust, representing the nation’s shame” not only in Malaysia but in the international arena!
Even worse, the MARA property corruption scandal has dragged into the international mud not only the reputation of MARA, but also the good name of Malaysia and the Federal Government, as well as the professionalism and integrity of the nation’s anti-corruption agency, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
At first, Annuar feigned ignorance about MARA property purchase hanky-panky in Australia and the use of off-shore companies to purchase the four MARA properties in Melbourne.
However, Annuar’s pretence had been debunked by the PKR Secretary-General and MP for Pandan, Rafizi Ramli who revealed that Annuar and his team in their visit to Melbourne on May 20 last year had been briefed of these property purchases and the extraordinary practices using offshore companies to acquire the properties.
MARA Inc had acquired four properties in Melbourne in 2012 and 2013 for a total of RM375.4 million, viz:
1. 746 Swanston Street (Aug 2012) – 281-unit student accommodation: A$41.8 million/ RM138.6 million
2. 333 Exhibition Street (March 2013) – six-storey modern CBD office building: A$31 million/ RM99.2 million
3. 51 Queens Street (March 2013) – office and commercial building: A$22 million/ RM70.4 million
4. Dudley International House (June 2013) – 112-room student accommodation: A$22.6 million/RM67.2 million
From available sources, both from The Age report of June 23 and the expose by the National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW) directors Rafizi Ramli and Akmal Nasir in the past two days, MARA had overpaid some RM62 million for three of the four property purchases in Melbourne, viz:
*Dudley International House – RM 13.8 million;
*333 Exhibition Street – RM 30 million;
*51 Queens Street – RM 18 million.
From the MARA Inc modus operandi of using offshore companies to purchase the Melbourne properties at overpriced rates, it is relevant to ask what was the over-price for the Swanston Street property.
Going by the modus operandi where some 25% of the final price went to “kickbacks”, then we are looking at over RM90 million for the four MARA Inc property purchases Melbourne being gobbled up by “kickbacks”.
Where is the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)?
The elaborate structure using offshore companies to purchase the MARA properties in Melbourne, with at least eight different companies used for the purchase of the four Melbourne properties, so as to be as opaque as possible instead of being as open, transparent and accountable, are contrary to all principles of transparency, accountability and integrity in the use of public funds.
In fact, the highly incestuous and multi-layered structure in the ownership and purchase of the four MARA Melbourne properties may hide even more secrets and what has been learnt so far may just be “tip of the iceberg” of the MARA Inc Melbourne properties corruption scandal.
Annuar Musa must bear full responsibility for this deplorable state of MARA affairs as the MARA Chairman, as he has failed his paramount duty in the MARA Vision for MARA to be a be “an outstanding organisation of trust, upholding the nation’s pride”.
MARA is not the only casualty in this sorry and sordid state of affairs arising from the corruption scandal of the MARA Inc purchase of four Melbourne properties, as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had also failed in its mission to combat corruption.
With the eruption of the MARA Inc property corruption scandal in Melbourne, Annuar has undoubtedly brought most shame and dishonour to MARA since its establishment in 1966 as compared to all other MARA Chairmen.
If Annuar is not prepared to resign, then he must be sacked as MARA Chairman even though his tenure ends on July 18.