BANDAR MALAYSIA ‘EXPLODES’, NAJIB LOOKS FOR SCAPEGOATS: MACC, TAX DEPT ORDERED TO ‘PROBE’ BUDIMAN PANEL OVER CONTROVERSIAL PRICING

PUTRAJAYA has ordered investigations into “potential conflicts of interest” in the high-powered Budiman committee’s work on the aborted share sale deal for Bandar Malaysia, sources said.

The Malaysian Insight learnt that Prime Minister Najib Razak wants investigations into decisions made over the 2015 RM7.41 billion deal with the Iskandar Waterfront Holdings-China Railway Engineering Corporation (IWH-CREC) consortium, which was terminated more than two weeks ago.

“The PM met with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), police and Internal Revenue Board (IRB) and instructed them to look into the matter of potential conflicts of interest and others areas which could be an issue with respect to these decisions and any interested parties,” a source told The Malaysian Insight.

Finance Minister II Johari Ghani and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) president Arul Kanda Kandasamy are in the Budiman committee, which was formed last year, to manage the scandal-hit state investor’s debt rationalisation plan.

Najib, who is also finance minister, announced the committee has been disbanded although the debt rationalisation plan is incomplete until Bandar Malaysia issues are settled.

He had also said Arul Kanda remains 1MDB president but is no longer in the boards of Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd and TRX City Sdn Bhd, which handle Bandar Malaysia and the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) developments respectively.

Treasury secretary-general Irwan Serigar Abdullah is now in charge of all matters regarding 1MDB land assets, which have been transferred to its sole shareholder, the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

Irwan has been under attack from government supporters this past week over his role in the shock termination of the Bandar Malaysia deal, which was to be the third and final part of a three-step debt rationalisation plan for 1MDB.

1MDB, formed in 2009, accumulated debts of some RM42 billion and had to sell its energy and water utilities unit and land assets in Putrajaya’s bid to clear the accounts.

The Malaysian Insight understands that investigations into “potential conflicts of interest” began after an audit and investigation into the Budiman committee’s decisions focused on the Bandar Malaysia and TRX transactions.

While the probe is going on, Putrajaya announced it was seeking request for proposals (RFP) from interested parties to develop the 197ha Bandar Malaysia, the ultra-modern transport hub within capital city Kuala Lumpur that will have high-speed rail links to Singapore and Bangkok apart from 12 highways.

News reports said Chinese real estate giant Dalian Wanda is in the lead to bag the contract to be master developer for the project, which is 100% owned by MoF. In the previous share sale deal, IWH-CREC would have owned 60% of the multi-billion-ringgit development.

Other companies said to be bidding for a stake in Bandar Malaysia include other Chinese real estate firms, such as Greenland Holdings Corp and China Vanke Co. It is understood that CREC might bid on its own for the transport components in the project.

– www.themalaysianinsight.com

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