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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shahrizats to open swanky supermarket in Singapore requiring RM40mil in annual overheads

Shahrizats to open swanky supermarket in S'pore requiring RM40mil in annual overheads
The family of Umno minister Shahrizat Jalil will be opening a luxury supermarket at Singapore's newest mall Star Vista which will require operating expenditure of between RM30 to 40 million ringgit a year, raising concern this might expose the National Feedlot Centre cattle breeding project to new business risks.
PKR leaders Rafizi Ramli and Zuraida Kamaruddin have accused the Shahrizats of leveraging on the RM180 million fixed deposit in NFC's name placed with Maybank to gain loans for their family businesses including the Singapore Farmhouse Supermarkets.
“We believe the loans were approved with the same method to pay for their two luxury condominiums in Marina Bay Suites worth RM34 million. This exposes public funds to risk of losses from the supermarket business,” Rafizi told a press conference on Tuesday.
Tenancy agreement already inked
According to Rafizi, Farmhouse Supermarkets has signed a tenancy agreement to take up 28 units and be the anchor tenant in Star Vista, a new mall that will begin operations in the third quarter of this year.
He said that based on the average rental for commercial space in Singapore, the estimated 3,000-sq metre supermarket will cost RM2.2 million a month in rental.
“Including other expenditure, the supermarket will require operating expenditure of RM30 to RM40 million a year,” said Rafizi.
He challenged the Shahrizats to come clean on how their could afford to take on such high-cost businesses, pointing out that the family would need to have at least RM500,000 in collective income per month just to service all their loans.
The Shahrizats have been accused to abusing their power and misusing funds meant to develop the NFC cattle breeding project, which had been granted a RM250 million government soft loan. The project was awarded to Shahrizat's family in 2006 and was described by the Auditior General as having fundamental "weaknesses" in his 2010 report.
Protection from a "cheeky" and bungling Najib
PKR has in the past few months unleashed a barrage of allegations against the Shahrizats including their purchase of luxury condominiums in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, a super-class Mercedes Benz, family holidays overseas and million-ringgit discounts to other family-owned firms.
Shahrizat has refused to quit despite the public furore and appears to have the backing of Prime Minister Najib Razak. Although Najib has insisted that a thorough probe would be carried and that the assets of NFC have been frozen to protect the public's interest, it is clear that he has no intention to punish the wrongdoers nor to stop the Shahrizats from their business venture.
“As NFCorp says, it’s business as usual. The prime minister is very cheeky to play with words when he said NFCorp’s assets were frozen. By right the freeze should follow the tentacles all the way because most of the money is already outside NFCorp,” Rafizi said, repeating his call for all NFCorp directors to have their personal assets frozen.
He also showed reporters an advertisement put out by Farmhouse Supermarkets to recruit purchasing managers on January 17, three days after Najib had publicly announced that NFCorp’s assets had been frozen.
No prosecution?
On Sunday, Najib created fresh concern when he suggested that the Auditor General might not prosecute the Shahrizats although the police had recommended that CBT or criminal breach of trust charges be leveled at Salleh Ismail, the NFC chairman and Shahrizat's husband.
It is believed that while those in his camp were the ones who started leaking news of the NFC misdeeds in an attempt to oust Shahrizat and replace her with his ally Raja Nong Chik as the Umno candidate for the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat, Najib was unprepared for the scandal to blow up in the way that it has, causing tremendous damage to the party's already corruption-tainted image.
Fearful that this might put a weapon in the hands of the Umno right wing led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, Najib is believed to have struck a deal with Shahrizat, allowing her time to resign her Cabinet post and giving her family 'immunity' from prosecution.
Malaysia Chronicle

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