Asia Malaysia Malaysian Mindef land deals probed by anti-graft busters

Malaysian Mindef land deals probed by anti-graft busters

MACC's chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said that due to the 25 years timeframe, and the fact that the deals involved multiple defence ministers and civil servants, it is going to be a very complex investigation

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Malaysia’s Ministry of Defence (Mindef) is being probed for land swap deals spanning over 25 years with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirming it is investigating at least 16 cases.

MACC’s chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said that due to the 25 years timeframe, and the fact that the deals involved multiple defence ministers and civil servants, it is going to be a very complex investigation.

“MACC received 16 reports. But it must be noted that the land swap deals they have given is a long list of cases that goes over more than 25 years as well.

“It is not as simple as just handing us an audit report because some of these land swap — the word land swap  itself is not wrong — but we need to know why the deal was made, why it was made in the manner,” Latheefa explained on the sidelines of an International Conference on Financial Crimes and Terrorism.

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Earlier Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told Parliament only one investigation paper had been opened on the land swaps.

The controversial land swap deals were revealed last February by the ministry itself. It said the government had lost more than RM500 million in land swap deals since 1997.

In May, the ministry handed over 14 reports on the alleged dubious land swap, which followed two other reports submitted earlier.

The reports were the findings of the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee which investigated 16 deals involving 1,183ha of land belonging to Mindef. The cost of the projects was estimated at RM4.88 billion.

An audit report stated that a former prime minister and former defence ministers were involved in the land swap deal for the development of the Muara Tuang and Penrissen camps in Sarawak.

Former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein who is now an Umno opposition MP was grilled for hours by graft busters in June over the land swap deals involving the Defence Ministry.

He was the defence minister between 2013 and 2018 and said at that time the MACC should not be selective in its probe on the matter. -/TISG

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