KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5, 2015:

The contract of Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd (Mara Inc) chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Abd Halim A Rahim will not be renewed following the overseas property purchase scandal.

Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed the matter and explained that the move was decided after an investigation was carried out by Mara and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“For the record, Mara is taking the matter very seriously and internal measures have been taken, including an internal audit.

“Mara is cooperating fully with MACC and some officers have been called up to assist in investigation. We leave the next steps to MACC,” he said in Dewan Rakyat when winding up debate on the Supply Bill.

He was answering a question from DAP-Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, who had asked about measures taken by the government and MACC regarding the allegations reported in the Australian media on the issue of the purchase of the Dudley International House in Melbourne.

When met outside the Dewan Rakyat, Ismail explained more on the issue.

According to him, apart from Mara Inc CEO, the tenure of chairman of Mara Inc, Datuk Mohamad Llan Allani, was also put to an end as he was involved in the purchase of the assets.

On the other hand, the two might be reinstated if the investigation revealed that they were not involved, he added.

“I do not think so (to accept their reinstatement). We’ll see how as we cannot decide yet.

“However, I understand that a new CEO and a new chairman has been appointed.

“Their suspension are necessary to allow the investigation to proceed without any interference, including in handling of files and documents,” said the Bera MP.

Abd Halim’s contract was terminated on Oct 1, while the chairman had his tenure terminated shortly after the case was exposed in the media.

The board of directors in Mara Inc has received candidates for the post of CEO and chairman, and the matter will be decided at a meeting on Nov 8.

The real estate purchase by Mara Inc was thrown into the limelight when Australian newspaper The Age alleged that a high-ranking Mara official, a senior official and a former politician had overspent government funds in buying a block of apartments in Melbourne.

The newspaper claimed that ‘a group of very wealthy Malaysian officials had overpaid by A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million) for the apartment block in 2013.

The Age reported that three officers allegedly placed “higher bids” for the Dudley International House, from A$17.8 million (RM51.5 million) million to A$22.5 million (RM65.3 million), and the difference in amount served as bribery.

Dudley International House is a student dormitory purchased by Mara, which provide scholarships for Malaysian students to study abroad.

A five-storey building in the suburb of East Caulfield, it currently houses 115 Mara students studying at Monash University.

Presently, Mara Inc’s assets are worth RM600 million in Australia and the United Kingdom.

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