Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Khalid alleges BN paid RM17.5m in questionable Mecca deal - Malaysian Insider

By Leslie Lau (Consultant Editor)

SHAH ALAM, Feb 25 — The Barisan Nasional state government made unauthorised investments for properties in Mecca, Saudi Arabia worth RM17.5 million in 2007, the Selangor menteri besar’s office has revealed.

The acquisitions were made through the state investment agency Permodalan Negeri Selangor Berhad (PNSB) without the approval of the board of directors, according to a statement from the office of Pakatan Rakyat MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim released late last night.

The disclosure of the unauthorised acquisitions come a day after Khalid said two top officials from PNSB were ordered to go on a month’s paid leave to facilitate investigations into “irregularities and weaknesses” in the company’s financial accounts.

They are chief executive Datin Khairiyah Abu Hassan and finance manager Nora Azmin Radzuan, who is also Selangor Puteri Umno chief.

Khalid’s disclosure of alleged improprieties appear targeted at former BN MB Datuk Dr Khir Toyo, whose recent complaints of abuse of power against him have resulted in the current state leader facing charges from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

According to Khalid’s office, the PNSB board had in 2007 only approved the purchase of five properties in Al Marwa Tower, an apartment complex built by the BinLadin group near the Kaaba, for RM8.3 million.

However, PNSB eventually acquired a total of 12 properties for RM25.6 million.

In what was described as “puzzling” by the MB’s office, PNSB then almost immediately flipped seven of the properties to an individual for RM17.2 million. The individual was not named by Khalid’s office.

The MB’s office then noted that some time in 2008, PNSB prepared four cheques for RM8 million in the name of the same individual who had earlier paid the RM17.2 million for the seven properties in 2007.

“However, three of the four cheques prepared and signed by authorised signatories were then cancelled.

“The fourth cheque amounting to RM2 million was released and banked into the account of the individual. PNSB then arranged with the bank to stop payment,” the MB’s office said.

Khalid’s office said external advisors have now been appointed to assist in evaluating expenses of state agencies, including PNSB.

External auditors have also raised a red flag over the purchase of the Al Marwa Towers properties.

“The above actions are certainly puzzling. Why did PNSB pay more than RM25 million when the board only approved about RM8 million for five units?

“Why did it then accept about RM17 million said to be for the sale of the seven units? Why did it then attempt to re-purchase the units it had sold off?” the statement said.

The MB’s office said Khalid intends to take strong action should any criminal act be involved.

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