RM500m land swap discrepancies

By MARK RAO / Pic By BERNAMA

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has revealed discrepancies in 16 land swap deals involving the ministry, which could cost over RM500 million in revenue leakages.

The discrepancies were due to political interference and poor project planning, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said in a statement yesterday.

The shady deals were exposed in a final report by the governance, procurement and finance committee headed by former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

He said the committee revealed that the 16 land swap projects involving 2,923 acres (1,182.9ha) of land owned by Mindef were valued at a combined RM4.76 billion and overall costs of RM4.89 billion.

Mohamad said the ministry was informed that the majority of the land swap projects’ implementation were not planned carefully and that the developers were appointed without comprehensive due diligence process.

“It was also found that there was political interference in the selection of the location of these land swaps aimed at furthering the political interests of certain parties.

“That has caused some of the projects to run beyond the contract tenure, which was previously agreed upon. There were also projects which were completed but at unsatisfactory construction qualities,” he said.

In light of the findings, Mohamad has instructed Mindef officials to lodge a report with the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and other relevant agencies to carry out further investigations and take appropriate actions as provided by the rule of law.

In June last year, the minister pledged to expose all alleged misconducts carried out by the then Barisan Nasional administration.

This came after former lawmaker Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz claimed that the land belonging to the Malaysian Armed Forces was swapped with an unnamed firm controlled by three notable individuals.

Mindef initially denied the allegation, stating that various means were undertaken to develop projects, including privatisation via land swap arrangements.

It remains unclear if the 16 land swap projects under probe were related to Rafidah’s claim.

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