'All funds from EXIM Bank China paid directly to China Petroleum Pipeline's accounts'

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 1): China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co Ltd (CPP) has stressed that all funds from Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM Bank China) were only paid directly to CPP's bank accounts.

In a statement today, the company said this was in accordance with the strict anti-money laundering banking rules, regulations, and signed legal agreements.

"There were absolutely no funds paid to any third-party Cayman Island-based company and/or companies whatsoever," it said.

CPP's clarification came in the wake of a report by The Edge Financial Daily on July 30 that despite a freeze imposed by the Penang state government on transactions involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd's (1MDB) Air Itam land in Penang, all 234 acres (94.7ha) have been surreptitiously sold to Cayman Islands-based Silk Road Southeast Asia Real Estate Ltd.

Quoting Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, the report said the land was sold for 4.25 billion yuan (RM2.7 billion) on Aug 24, 2017, netting a profit of RM1.32 billion based on the original RM1.38 billion purchase price.

A source familiar with the issue said the transaction reeks of money laundering, as the buyer did not subsequently seek the transfer of the shares.

"Why do you throw so much money and don't ask for the transfer of titles? The obvious answer is money laundering," the source told The Edge Financial Daily.

It is believed that the money might have travelled from the ministry of finance's (MoF) wholly-owned unit Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd's RM9.4 billion gas pipeline project that was awarded to China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau on Nov 1, 2016.