Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) through a subsidiary, MARA Inc, allegedly overpaid developers of an apartment building in Melbourne by A$4.75 mil (RM13.68 mil) in a property scam, Australian daily The Age said today.
The building called Dudley House is used to house up to 115 Mara scholars attending Monash University.
The news report stated that Australian developers and Malaysian businessmen built student flats to sell for A$17.8mil but then inflated the price to A$22.5mil.
The Australian daily said invoices showed the extra A$4.75 mil was paid for non-existent services, including “professional advice” and “consultancy and advisory fees”.
“Corporate records reveal that the firms behind these sham invoices are closely linked to several powerful Malaysian figures, including another top MARA official,” wrote The Age.
The property was bought using a British Virgin Islands shelf company.
The developers were reported sending the A$4.75 mill back to Malaysia.
The Australian newspaper contacted the Mara official by phone but the man could not recall the Dudley House dealings.
The Age stated, “He said he was involved in setting up offshore companies in tax havens as ‘convenient’ way of selling property bought by the Malaysian government.”
It also wrote that the former politician turned Mara official hung up the phone when questioned about his knowledge of any alleged kickbacks.
The paper stated a Melbourne developer Peter Mills was asked in a civil court case about whether the A$4.75 mil generated by inflating Dudley House’s was used ‘to grease palms’ overseas in which he answered “Yeah, I think so”.
Mills also told The Age that ‘the deal was corrupt’.
The news also quoted another developer who involved in the transaction, Christ Dimitriou saying “To the best of my knowledge, that A$4.8 million went to Malaysian parties”.
The exclusive report was based on an eight-month investigation by Fairfax Media (owner of The Age) which traced suspicious money flow, court files and corporate records to uncover why Dudley House’s purchase price was so high.
The report also said “Malaysian officials from Mara have also used other shelf companies in Singapore, which is also regarded as a tax haven, to purchase properties in Queens Street and Exhibition Street in Melbourne’s CBD for around A$40 million (RM115mil)”.