PKR: Deepak land deal is a bribery attempt

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PETALING JAYA: PKR has cried foul over the use of Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera’s (LTAT) money to buy a disputed 80.94ha piece of land in Klang, Selangor, calling it “an outright attempt at bribery”.
The party’s strategic director Rafizi Ramli vowed yesterday to use every possible means to block the purchase from going through, including by writing to the state government urging it not to authorise the transfer of title to the companies involved.
He was referring to an announcement by LTAT’s investment vehicle Boustead Holding Sdn Bhd to Bursa Malaysia last Thursday that it will acquire an 80% stake in Astacanggih Sdn Bhd for RM30 million.
It will be made through Boustead’s wholly-owned subsidiary Bakti Wira Development Sdn Bhd which will be used to buy the freehold land from Awan Megah (M) Sdn Bhd for RM130 million.
Astacanggih is owned by businessman Deepak Jaikishan while Awan Megah is owned by Selangor Wanita Umno chief Datuk Raja Ropiaah Abdullah.
Speaking to reporters at the PKR headquarters yesterday, Rafizi called on Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to exercise more caution in making the decision.
“The capital and financial activities of Boustead are largely dependent on the contributions deducted from the salaries of servicemen that are channelled into LTAT.
“Zahid bears this responsibility, he should be careful in using the investment and ensure it is in the interest of the servicemen,” he said.
Rafizi said Zahid’s attempt to rescue the company involved “is worse than a bailout” as he alleged that the only welfare that is taken care of in the deal is that of Raja Ropiaah, Deepak and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“For us, to take this RM160 million (in total), I wouldn’t even call it a bailout, this is outright bribery to pay and silence them,” he said, explaining that a bailout is sometimes done on moral grounds to protect the employees involved.
Deepak came in the limelight recently after claiming that he was shortchanged in a transaction involving a piece of land owned by Awan Megah, for which he supposedly paid a substantial amount to Najib’s family for endorsement.
He said the company had agreed to transfer the land that it had received from the government as payment for the construction of the National Defence Research Centre (Puspahanas) to his company in exchange for a land bond and cash.
He then filed a suit against Awan Megah for not fulfilling the agreement and attacked Najib for not keeping up to the purported endorsement.
However, a day before Boustead’s announcement to Bursa, Deepak withdrew the case and claimed later that he was “forced” to sell Astacanggih and the amount paid was only enough to cover the money he had used up for the land deal with Awan Megah.
Rafizi in questioning the basis of purchase of Astacanggih shares alleged the company “neither had a good business record nor assets”.
“In fact, checks with the Companies of Commission of Malaysia revealed that the company had never even filed a financial statement.
“Apart from the paid-up capital of RM20 million, the company is burdened with a RM98 million loan from Kuwait Finance House,” he said, backing his assertion that there is “no basis” to the price paid for the shares.
Moreover, he said, the title for the plot has yet to be transferred to Awan Megah. “So technically, the Defence Ministry is paying RM130 million for land that does not exist because it still does not belong to Awan Megah, the land title is with the state government,” he said.
He also pointed out that the RM130 million tag on the piece of land was done without independent valuation, and on the mere reasoning that an adjacent plot there was valued at RM390,000 per acre in 2005, but LTAT is acquiring it at RM650,000 per acre.
“It was done on a ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ basis,” said Rafizi. “For the RM30 million that will be used to buy shares in Astacanggih, it is maybe as good as gone, but we will do everything we can to save the remaining RM130 million,” he said.
He said PKR will be making a trip to Bakti Wira next week to demand to see details of the agreement announced by Boustead and will hold more press conferences later to further expose the matter.

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Dec 31, 2012.