TABUNG HAJI CONFIRMS PROPERTY DEALS WITH ARRESTED SAUDI PRINCE AL-WALEED BUT DENIES ANY LINK TO MONEY LAUNDERING

KUALA LUMPUR – Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) has denied an unsubstantiated allegation by a blogger that the pilgrimage fund had a role in laundering money owned by billionaire Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud.

TH said on Friday the allegation seemed to have been based on a March 2017 report by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) that Crestmount Capital, a Middle Eastern fund by Prince Khaled, son of  Prince Al-Waleed, had closed an A$100mil investment into Piety Investments, a Sydney residential developer.

It said that its property development unit, TH Properties Sdn Bhd (THP), “indeed has several investments with the Piety Group in developing residential projects in Sydney”.

“All investments are made directly by THP from internal funds; under no circumstances that THP has in the past or at any material point of times, sought or secured funds from Crestmount Capital or other external investors.”

TH also pointed out THP was not privy to any dealings, if any, between Crestmount Capital and Piety Group.

“The insinuation that Crestmount Capital funds are tainted has been made by the blogger alone, for which he or she must bear sole responsibility.

“The allegation that TH and its subsidiary are involved in money laundering is false and baseless,” it said.

TH said that it had, to its best level, ensured that its business and investments are carried out effectively according to Islamic principles, through good corporate governance and best business practices, giving priority to integrity, transparency and accountability.

Last Saturday, Alwaleed was detained by the Saudi government as part of what officials have called an anti-corruption campaign.

RELATED STORY: Al-Waleed’s money laundered via Tabung Haji into property projects in Sydney, Australia

Reports said Alwaleed, 62, is the nephew of Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and is a cousin of the country’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Alwaleed, owner of investment firm Kingdom Holding, invests in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter. He was among 11 princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers detained, three senior officials told Reuters on Sunday.

The purge against the kingdom’s political and business elite also targeted the head of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was detained and replaced as minister of the powerful National Guard by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf.

The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery and extorting officials, one official told Reuters.

Prince Miteb was accused of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and awarding contracts to his own companies including a US$10bil deal for walkie talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals.

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