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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Australian federal police have charged one of its citizens for allegedly bribing a Malaysian government official to secure the sale of a multi-million-dollar student accommodation in south-east Melbourne, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.
Teen Boon Lye was charged on July 9 with bribing a foreign official, and four counts of false accounting relating to the sale in 2013 of a student accommodation block called Dudley House — then bought by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA).
SMH reported that the charges came five years after a joint investigation by the daily and its sister publication The Age, which exposed the price of the property having been allegedly inflated by A$4.75 million (RM14,362,061) in order to pay kickbacks to a group of Malaysian officials.
Court documents cited by the report alleged that he “provided, or promised to provide, a benefit, namely the sum of A$4,750,000 to other persons, including Zach Zainal and Erwan Azizi... with the intention of influencing a foreign public official in Malaysia... in order to obtain or retain business, namely the sale of a student residential apartment complex”.
During a filing hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday, prosecutor Santo De Pasquale reportedly said that police would charge that the original agreed sale price for the property was priced at A$17.85 million (RM53.963 million) but later sold for A$22.6 million with A$4.75 million paid to Malaysian foreign officials.
De Pasquale reportedly said that after settlement, there alleged discussions between Teen and several “Malaysian agents”, whom police alleged acted on behalf of Malaysian government officials.
In Australia, the offence of bribing a foreign public official carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of A$1.8 million.
In 2015, the papers reported that “a group of extremely rich Malaysian officials” overpaid by A$4.75 million to buy an apartment in Melbourne in 2013.
The officials among them, a top MARA officer, a senior official and a former politician allegedly used government funds worth millions of ringgit to purchase an apartment block at Dudley International House offering nearly A$5 million higher than the original A$17.8 million price.
They also claimed that the building developer in Australia issued a false invoice detailing “consultation service” paid to a Malaysian firm.
Dudley International House is a student dormitory located in the East Caulfield suburb housing Monash University students.
In 2017, MARA had sold off one of its assets, a 12-storey office building on 51st Queen Street in Melbourne for profit.
MARA Inc still owns three buildings in Melbourne with a combined value of around RM300 million.