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JOHOR BARU, June 27, 2015:

Following the recent property purchase scandal by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) in Australia, Barisan Nasional Back Benchers Club (BNBBC) chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad questioned whether a company was created under Mara Incorporated for the purpose of being an “offshore tax haven”.

He raised the question of the approval needed to set up a Mara subsidiary company overseas since the capacity to do so was with the highest leaders in the council.

Shahrir also disputed whether the issue of a “wrong decision”, in purchasing the property for US$22.4 million (RM84.7 million) instead of US$17.8, still existed as the property evaluation process and due diligence had been conducted.

“Mara did its due diligence and evaluated the property that was to be bought. The company that did these things were obviously from Australia, not just Malaysia.

“The process involves a third party that conducts the due diligence and property evaluation.

“If the process is right how can there be a question of a wrong decision? If the decision was wrong, maybe it was because Mara Inc set up an offshore tax haven company,” he told The Rakyat Post.

The Johor Baru Member of Parliament also questioned the approval for setting up an overseas company in tax exempt areas.

“That raises a question. Who gave the approval to set up the offshore tax haven company?

“Whether the setting up of the offshore company was approved by Mara, I don’t know. That is the big question.

“But this is under investigation so let it be investigated,” he added.

On June 23, a Mara scandal was alleged by Australian daily The Age, prompting the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to send its officers to Australia to continue with the investigation.

The Age reported that a high ranking Mara officer, a senior officer and a former politician were alleged to have been involved in fraud in the purchase of a piece of property, an apartment called Dudley House which was used to house some 115 Mara scholarship students who were studying at Monash University.

The portal claimed that “a group of super rich Malaysians” purchased the property in Melbourne for RM65.4 million although it had a market price of RM51.5 million with the balance of RM13.8 million being misappropriated.

Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa was previously reported as saying that the purchase of the apartment was carried out according to defined process and had the approval of the Economic Council.

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