Six held over land scandal scam

27 Feb 2017 / 14:13 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Six suspects held by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over land scandal cases in Johor had allegedly also conspired with housing developers to convert houses allocated for bumiputra to non-bumiputra status fraudulently, depriving the latter from owning their own property.
Sources said the misdeeds were done as non-bumiputra houses fetched higher prices, enabling the developers and the suspects to rake in bigger profits.
MACC investigators learnt that the rogue developers had allegedly concealed the 30% quota of properties allocated for bumiputra by registering these houses under the names of its own staff who are bumiputra.
Potential bumiputra buyers, who are keen on acquiring these properties, are then told the units have been sold out.
Sources said at the end of the property sales period, on the excuse the bumiputra houses were unsold, the developer would make applications to the state government requesting for the status of such properties be open for sale to non-bumiputra.
As required by the law, the conversion of status entails a penalty of about 7% imposed by the state government where the fine is channelled to a fund meant for the upgrading of facilities at housing estates.
However, MACC investigators learnt that such fines were siphoned by the suspects and only a part of it was channelled to the fund.
Investigators discovered that the scam involved several developers in Johor and had been actively going on since 2013.
"The actions of these errant developers and suspects have affected those who genuinely intend to buy their own property. Not just those with bumiputra status, but the middle-income public is also affected by this fraud," sources said.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said they are carrying out a search for relevant documents that can shed more light into the case at the offices of the suspects.
He said it is likely more suspects will be picked up.
A 25-year-old man, who is the son of a state executive councillor and the latter's special officer, was among six people arrested in simultaneous raids in Johor Baru on Saturday.
Two developers, a lawyer and a sixth unidentified individual were the others held.
The suspects, aged between 25 and 50, are in custody under a remand order.
A tip-off led to the suspects, who are believed to have lowered the premium of land approved for housing and industrial projects.
The MACC seized 21 luxury cars, five high-powered motorcycles, about RM500,000 in cash, including foreign currencies, and also froze 45 bank accounts of the suspects involving deposits of about RM15.5 million.

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