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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Carelessness, stupidity or bribes behind Mara’s buys

NGO wants Mara Chairman Annuar Musa to stop evading on giving answers on the agency’s Aussie investments
rafizi, now, mara
KUALA LUMPUR: If investments are below the market return and a government agency still goes ahead with the purchase, those who approve it are either careless, stupid or took bribes according to the National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW), an NGO headed by Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli.
Rafizi urged Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) Chairman Annuar Musa to explain to the public instead of evading the issue. “He has been doing this (evading). He should also reveal who sold 333 Exhibition Street to Mara.”
NOW was sounding the alarm bells on 333 Exhibition Street being marked up by AUD9 million (RM27 million) by an unknown seller, within six months of its initial purchase.
At a press conference, at the NOW office in Sungai Besi, Rafizi disclosed that the property in question was initially owned by Quintessential Equity which publishes all its transactions on its website.
According to the website of the property fund, the Quintessential Property bought the property in 2011 for AUD17.5 million, did an upgrade and sold it to an unknown party for AUD22 million.
“Within about six months after that, in March 2013, Mara Inc bought the property for AUD31 million which is AUD9 million or RM27 million more than what was paid to Quintessential Property,” he said. “This is absolutely clear that ‘they’ made money.”
The settlement with Quintessential Property by the unknown company occurred on February 2013, and Mara approved the purchase for AUD31 million on 21 February 2013, he added.
“Who was the ‘lucky’ person that flipped the sale and got the AUD9 million commission on the sale?” he asked. “This was the same method used in the Dudley House purchase, but this time the amount of the mark up was much higher and the seller of the property is unknown, for now.”
Rafizi questioned why there was a need for Mara to invest in properties, especially properties overseas, when according him, Mara does not have the expertise to invest in the property sector.
Common defence on these investments, Rafizi claims, has been that these are good investments with high returns, in terms of rental yield, and this prompted NOW to look into the estimated return, reported in the proposal to the Mara Council which subsequently approved it.
“The average yield in Sydney and Melbourne’s Central Business District Offices (CBD), in June and July, i.e. the average rental yield return, on average was 6.5-7 per cent,” said Rafizi citing, the Property Observer journal article, by Larry Schlesinger, dated 4 June 2012, a quarterly property valuation in Australia.
However, he noted, that in the proposals given to the Mara Council, not even one of the investments matched the market return.
“This means that from from the very beginning, when this proposal was made to the Mara Council, it would have been known that all the investments had below average market return, but it was still approved,” said Rafizi.
And due to that, Rafizi thinks the projects should have been scrapped and discontinued, according to the proper procedures, instead of being approved.

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