Mara chief orders graft probe speeded up

KUALA LUMPUR • Government agency Mara chairman Annuar Musa said he has ordered the expediting of an investigation by auditors into its property purchases in Australia.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee said it would look into the deals, which allegedly involved kickbacks following the purchase of several buildings at inflated prices in Melbourne.

Mara, the Malay acronym for the People's Trust Council, was originally set up to drive development, and provide financial assistance to Malays.

Mr Annuar told reporters on Sunday that due to certain complications involving costing, the appointment process of audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was settled only last week, the Malay Mail reported.

"It should have been last month but (the delay) is because they needed to sort out the terms of reference, and the terms of reference had to do with costs. When it comes to costs, we have to follow certain financial rules, but I've given a directive last week that everything must be expedited."

He reiterated that the alleged misappropriation of millions of ringgit in the Australian deals was a "serious" matter as it involved public funds, and that made it an issue of public interest. "We don't want mistakes to be repeated, and if we find any wrongdoing, we will take stern action," he said.

He also said he had not received any feedback from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on its investigation into the property purchases.

Mara also offers overseas scholarships, and operates junior colleges across Malaysia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2015, with the headline 'Mara chief orders graft probe speeded up'. Print Edition | Subscribe