TH denies money laundering allegation

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By TMR File

Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) has refuted a claim by a blogger that it had a role in laundering illicit wealth owned by Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Talal.

A statement by TH last Friday said the money laundering allegation, made against its property development unit TH Properties Sdn Bhd (THP), was “false and baseless” as THP has never sought for funds from Prince Al-Waleed.

Prince Al-Waleed, a member of Saudi’s royal family and owner of investment powerhouse Kingdom Holding Co, was detained previous weekend on charges of money laundering, bribery and extortion, in an anti-corruption purge led by Crown Prince Mohammad Salman.

THP said the allegation was based on a report by the Australia Financial Review newspaper earlier in March this year that Crestmount Capital, a Dubai-based fund run by Prince Khaleed, son of Prince Al-Waleed, had closed a A$100 million (RM321.5 million) investment into Piety Investments Pte Ltd, a Sydney residential developer.

“THP indeed has several investments with the Piety Group in developing residential projects in Sydney. All investments are directly by THP from internal funds; under no circumstances has THP in the past or at any material point of time, sought or secured funds from Crestmount Capital or other external investors,” the company said in a statement last Friday.

It added that it is not privy to any dealings between Crestmound Capital and the Piety Group.

“The insinuation that Crestmount Capital funds are tainted has been made by the blogger alone, for which he or she must bear sole responsibility of,” it said.

The report alleged that THP helped Piety secure the multimillion dollar deal from Crestmount Capital due to its Shariah- compliant status.

The investment was for the development of a mega twostage Wentworth Point joint project by Piety and THP.

Australian real estate has struggled to attract capital from the Middle East held by Shariah-compliant requirements and currency-exchange losses.

Shariah-compliant funds are prohibited from investing in companies with income derived from the sales of alcohol, pork products, pornography, gambling and ancillary.

Given the restrictive circumstance, Gulf investors often channel their reserves in areas such as logistics and industrial assets.

TH said it is concerned of wild allegations made against the group that may adversely affect its reputation and create unwarranted anxiety among depositors.

“TH Group has, to its level best, ensured that its business and investments are carried out effectively, in accordance with Islamic principles through good corporate governance and best business practices, giving priority to integrity, transparency and accountability,” it said.