Five people, including two former senior officers of Felda, are in remand for seven days from today for investigations into alleged misappropriation in connection with a sturgeon fish rearing project worth RM47.6 million. — Bernama
Five Felda officials linked to Felda, one of them a 'Datuk' have been arrested in a sting operation dubbed 'Ops Caviar' , as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission zeroes in on a RM47.6 million sturgeon farming project which failed to take off in Pahang.
PETALING JAYA: Felda is the latest government-linked company (GLC) to be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which saw three current and two former officers, one of them a Datuk, being arrested for alleged corruption over a project worth RM47.6mil.
Three of them were former senior executives, who held positions of power when they were still with the GLC.
They are the GLC’s former director-general, ex-deputy director-general (strategic resources), and the former operations officer in charge of the sturgeon project.
Two others detained were its head of London Properties and an assistant administration officer.
All five were picked up in a sting operation, dubbed Ops Caviar, by officers from the anti-graft body between 11.30am and 6pm in several locations around Klang Valley yesterday.
Many valuable items were seized during the raids, including a luxury car and jewellery, estimated to be worth millions of ringgit.
More items are expected to be seized as anti-graft officers visit their homes and obtain details of their assets and personal accounts of their immediate family members to be frozen as part of investigations.
They are being investigated for alleged corruption, abuse of positions and using the GLC for personal gain.
It is learnt that the investigation was zeroing in on the implementation of technology transfer in relation to the sturgeon fish rearing project with a Korean firm.
“We believe all the five suspects are directly involved in the project worth US$10mil (RM47.6mil) since 2014.
Penchant for bling bling: Some of the jewellery seized from the suspects.
Major haul: Some of the items sized by MACC
“Checks showed that in early 2013, a meeting was held to discuss the project.
“But the Felda board of directors told the 53-year-old suspect to first come up with a detailed report and a proposal on the amount of investments for the project before making a decision,” said a source.
But unknown to the Felda directors, financial and legal divisions, a company – Felda Carviative Sdn Bhd (FCSB) – was set up in January 2014.
An agreement, worth US$45mil (RM146.25mil), was then signed between the company and a Korean firm, in relation to sturgeon rearing deal.
Checks by the MACC showed the project did not receive accreditation from the Pahang Department of Environment as per the SOP.
“We found payment made to the Korean firm about one week after the FCSB was set up.
“This was despite no approval being obtained from the Felda directors,” added the source.
So far, funds amounting to RM47.6mil from Felda have been disbursed by the suspects.
It is learnt the deal with the foreign firm involved technology transfer, service agreement and design and construction agreement.
The agreement was said to have been inked by the Datuk and the 53-year-old suspect, both of whom were former directors of FCSB.
Then, the financial division was also under the purview of both suspects.
MACC director of investigations Datuk Simi Abd Ghani confirmed the arrests of the five.
Simi said stacks of documents relating to the project had been seized to assist in the probe.
“The investigation is still in the initial stage. We will need time to sift through the documents and call in more witnesses to gather evidence. Give us some time to work on the case,” he said.
All the five suspects, held overnight at the MACC Putrajaya headquarters, will be remanded today.
Source: The Star/ANN
Auditor General Ambrin: Losses in publicly funded projects due to graft
Tan Sri Ambrin Buang
KUALA LUMPUR: Mismanagement and corruption in publicly funded construction projects have caused potential losses of up to 30% of a project’s investment value, according to the Auditor-General (pic).
Tan Sri Ambrin Buang said a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank showed how corruption in the infrastructure and extractive sectors had led to misallocation of public funds and services that were substandard and insufficient.
“It is difficult to measure the exact cost, but it has been estimated that between 10% and 30% of the investment in publicly funded construction projects may be lost through mismanagement, and about 20% to 30% of project value is lost through corruption,” he said at the Combating Procurement Fraud in the Public and Private Sectors Forum 2017 yesterday.
The forum highlighted the issues in public procurements in Malaysia – a process where the government obtains works, goods or services from companies and one that Ambrin said is most vulnerable to corruption.
Ambrin’s speech was read out by the National Audit Department’s research, corporate and international relations division director Roslan Abu Bakar.
Ambrin also observed that procurement fraud in the public sector is a complex issue, covering a wide range of illegal activities from bid-rigging during the pre-contract award phase through to false invoicing in the post-contract award phase.
He noted that last year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had opened up a series of investigations involving government procurements.
“One of these involved senior government officials making false claims and fraud amounting to RM20mil last year, and this was followed by a case involving a senior Youth and Sports Ministry official amounting to RM107mil.
“Another case involved a Sabah Water Department official for fraud amounting to RM153mil, and the latest arrest involved a federal ministry secretary-general,” he said.
The Auditor-General added that based on experience, he could not entirely dismiss the existence of bid-rigging in Malaysia’s public procurement.
“One of the signs is when an equipment price is quoted higher than market value.
“If procurement officers do not research market prices, they will believe that the given price is reasonable.
“For example, in the Audit Report, we highlighted significant differences in prices of certain equipment, ranging from RM1,000 to RM7,200 additional cost for the same types and specifications,” he said.
Post-contract fraud is also a common problem, and Ambrin said the department had identified cases where payment control systems were bypassed to allow for fraud to occur.
Source: The Star/ANN
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