Malaysia to probe Battersea property deal in London: Anwar Ibrahim

Trains pass near construction work taking place around Battersea Power Station in London, Britain, on May 22, 2018.
Trains pass near construction work taking place around Battersea Power Station in London, Britain, on May 22, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia will investigate the Battersea Power Station deal and other major "dubious" property investments in the UK, said Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan.

On a working visit to Britain, Datuk Seri Anwar told The Guardian that a series of deals paid for by Malaysian sovereign funds and pension funds and brokered by the previous Barisan Nasional administration had to be looked at again and renegotiated if there was any wrongdoing.

"All these deals which are considered dubious, including investments in housing in London, will have to be investigated. Yes, that includes Battersea. Because they were made using state funds. We have to be convinced that this was the right investment decision and that there was no political influence or direction (within Malaysia)," he was quoted as saying.

Due to be completed in 2028 with an estimated gross development value of £10 billion (S$18 billion), the Battersea Power Station project is owned by a consortium of Malaysian investors comprising Sime Darby Property Bhd, SP Setia Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Malaysia's new government, which came into power after a surprise election victory last month, has been reviewing big-ticket investments entered into by the previous administration of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The former premier was also linked to the scandal at state fund 1MDB, after RM2.6 billion was found in his personal accounts. He was cleared of all wrongdoing by the Malaysian authorities in 2016, but the new regime has reopened probes into the matter.

"It's clearly a political decision to invest. If there is something wrong then we will want to renegotiate. We are looking at umpteen deals extending to hundreds of billions of ringgit - that is tens of billions of dollars," Mr Anwar told The Guardian.

In his interview with the British daily published on Monday (June 11), Mr Anwar said the money trail in the 1MDB fraud case ran through London, with US1.83 billion (S$2.4 billion) being channelled through a British-Saudi company.

"There was no attempt by British authorities to investigate. But this was a crime using sovereign wealth funds for reckless spending sprees. I am seeking support from the British government and from the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson," he said.

He cited Singapore as an example where people have gone to prison and banks had been closed down over the 1MDB scandal.

The US Department of Justice has filed several suits alleging 1MDB officials laundered more than US$4.5 billion worldwide, in a scheme it described as "kleptocracy at its worst".

In a press statement on Monday, Mr Anwar's office said Mr Johnson has provided his assurance that the UK government will support investigations into the 1MDB corruption scandal, including the repatriation of assets seized in Britain.

Mr Anwar is on a four-day visit to London for a series of meeting with British ministers to discuss bilateral relationships in business, education, science and medical research collaborations.