PUTRAJAYA • A Malaysian businessman has been remanded by police for allegedly offering a RM2 million ($631,150) bribe to the Sultan of Johor for the royal to recommend a person's name for a "Tan Sri" title.
Such titles can only be awarded by the country's King.
The 54-year-old, himself a Tan Sri, is also being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over claims he acted as a broker for these titles.
Sources at MACC told The Star that they will question some 15 individuals who have been awarded honorific titles and are believed to have been "clients" of the arrested man.
"We have received some tip-offs. We know who sought his help to get titles conferred on them. They will need to come forward and give us information," said a source.
They refused to say, however, if Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar would be giving his statement on the case. The case first surfaced when the Johor ruler posted on his Facebook page that he was offered RM2 million to propose someone to the Chief Secretary to the Government as a candidate for the Tan Sri title.
The arrested man, from Klang town in Selangor state, has been described as a wealthy businessman in the shipping industry who moves in high society. It is learnt that he has a successful bunkering business in Johor, to supply fuel to ships and tugboats around ports in the state.
"Bunkering is a niche market and you need a lot of capital for the business," a businessman said.
Some local businessmen have also expressed shock over his arrest, as they claimed that he was a "down-to-earth" person despite being a multi-millionaire.
"He also likes to give to charity," the businessman said, adding that he was puzzled as to why he would try to bribe the Johor ruler.
The arrested man was brought to court last Friday and will be held until Tuesday. He was accompanied by his three lawyers, Datuk K. Kumaraendran, J.R. Tey and Datuk Joshua Kevin.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK