Malaysia's anti-graft body to question former Felda chairman over property purchases

Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, former chairman of Malaysian land development authority Felda attends a Ramadan event.
Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, former chairman of Malaysian land development authority Felda attends a Ramadan event. PHOTO: FOTOBERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The former chairman of Malaysian land development authority Felda will be called up next week to help graft busters dig further into property purchases in London and Kuching.

Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad is among a long list of people who have or will be called by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to have their statements recorded over the purchase of hotels in London and Kuching by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FIC), sources said.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki had said that investigators would record a statement from a key individual soon but refused to confirm if the person is Mohd Isa.

"Yes, we are going to call someone important over the purchase of the two hotels by FIC. But I can't tell you who the person is. You just have to wait until next week," he told The Star.

Investigations into the two cases were going smoothly, said Azam.

Nine people have been arrested and more than 30 witnesses have been called to date.

Among those remanded were former FIC chief executive officer Zaid Abdul Jalil and Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, who was an aide to Mohd Isa when he was Felda chairman.

The MACC is investigating FIC's purchase of a four-star hotel in London's upmarket Kensington area for RM330 million (S$105 million) between 2013 and 2015.

The actual value of the property at the time of purchase was said to be RM110 million.

It is also investigating the company's acquisition of a Kuching hotel bought for RM160 million in 2014.

It is believed that FIC - Felda's investment arm focusing mainly on real estate, hospitality and the oil and gas sectors - had bought it at between RM40 million and RM50 million above the actual value.

In the ongoing investigation, three people had their statements recorded on Wednesday (Aug 9), including FIC board member Datuk Nur Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid who was called for the second time.

Nur Ehsanuddin, MP for Kota Tinggi, arrived at 9.50am and left two hours later after being quizzed on FIC's purchase of the London hotel.

Investigators also took statements from Felda's legal department director Helwani Lukman and an unidentified female laywer.