Six nabbed in Johor land scandal

JOHOR BARU • The son of a Johor executive councillor and one of the official's special officers have been arrested by Malaysia's anti-graft agency over a land corruption scandal, with 45 bank accounts containing RM15.5 million (S$4.9 million) frozen.

Two property developers, a lawyer and another unidentified person were also nabbed in raids starting last Friday by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which seized 21 luxury cars and motorcycles including a Bentley, a Porsche and a Harley Davidson. Foreign currency totalling RM500,000 and stacks of documents were also seized.

In Malaysia's state legislatures, a state Cabinet minister is called an executive councillor or exco.

The swoops are part of recent high-profile investigations by MACC against top federal and state officials in recent months. Those under MACC probe include the chairman of Mara and former top officials of Felda - two key government agencies that help Malays - for alleged misappropriation of funds.

Anti-graft sources said that in the Johor case, the suspects... allegedly received kickbacks for helping developers pay lower premiums to convert land into housing and industrial projects.

Anti-graft sources said that in the Johor case, the suspects, aged between 25 and 50, allegedly received kickbacks for helping developers pay lower premiums to convert land into housing and industrial projects. Generally, a developer has to pay a big financial premium to the government to convert plantation land into a residential or industrial project.

Sources said the lawyer was involved in preparing the legal documents for the projects, with MACC looking into these land deals in the past six months.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki said the alleged corrupt practices have caused millions of dollars in losses to the state government's coffers. "We are now examining the seized documents," he said. Witnesses will be called, he added.

Johor Menteri Besar Mohammed Khaled Nordin told reporters yesterday to let the anti-graft commission continue its probe. "It is too premature for me to say anything now," he told the reporters after attending a public event.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2017, with the headline 'Six nabbed in Johor land scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe