Umno man questions conflict of interest in 1MDB-Tabung Haji deal

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(May 8): Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah today questioned the conflict of interest arising from revelations that a top executive of Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) also sat on the board of state investment vehicle 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Weighing in on Tabung Haji's controversial purchase of a plot of land within the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project by 1MDB in the Kuala Lumpur city centre, the former Umno deputy minister said the wealthy pilgrims' fund was only supposed to invest in shariah compliant businesses.

"Isn't Tabung Haji CEO Tan Sri Ismee Ismail also on 1MDB's board: isn't that a conflict of interest here?" he wrote on his Facebook page today.

A check on 1MDB's website lists Ismee as one of the six people on its board of directors.

Tabung Haji, a savings fund for Muslims planning pilgrimages to Mecca, yesterday said it had bought a parcel of land from the state investment vehicle's Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project for RM188.5 million, which it claimed was a "discounted" price.

It planned to build a residential tower at the site.

PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli earlier today raised suspicions over the timing of the sale to Tabung Haji for RM188.5 million, saying the amount was close to the interest 1MDB has to pay next week.

"Are the monies from Tabung Haji's depositors being used to help 1MDB to pay off the interest of its loan?

"This situation is nearly the same as the move by the federal government to inject RM950 million into 1MDB last March, which was also close to the date it had to pay off the interests of its loan," he said in a statement.

Yesterday, Public Accounts Committee chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed expressed surprise over Tabung Haji's decision, since it was known that the Finance Ministry-owned 1MDB was saddled with RM42 billion debts.

"There are many other investment opportunities for which Tabung Haji can use depositors’ money to make a gain.

“It doesn't have to be this one.

"The issue is about professionalism and the integrity of (TH's) investment committee and the board which approved it, and whether there was an invisible hand directing them.

"As for the purchase, the land is in a prime location but is the deal done on current market values?" Nur Jazlan said. – The Malaysian Insider