News: Najib Insists on Hiding Cost of TRX- Apparently Due to Confidentiality Clause

Nov 14, 2017

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) refuses to divulge the exact size and selling price of the land in Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) it bought from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in 2015 because it doesn’t want the public to know that it paid thousands of ringgit more for land originally costing only 64 psf.

This was claimed by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, after the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also the Finance Minister, said in a written reply that he can’t answer his query as the transaction is “protected by a confidentiality clause between the buyer and seller.”

Then on 6 November, Pua questioned why the info cannot be revealed even though 1MDB and the buyer, MoF’s wholly-owned unit Aroma Teraju, are both controlled by the state.

“The Minister chose to ignore that both Aroma Teraju and 1MDB are wholly-owned by MoF. What is the purpose of this secrecy, when both parties in the agreement are owned by the government?” Pua asked on Wednesday (8 November).

“There is only one reason for invoking this confidentiality clause, and it has nothing to do with the purported ‘commercial considerations’. It is to cover up the fact that MoF paid over-the-top to buy back a fraction of the prime land that it had sold at bargain basement prices to 1MDB in 2010.”

Citing 1MDB’s 2011 financial statements, he pointed out that the 70-acre TRX land was purchased by the government for RM194 million, or about RM64 psf in 2010.

But in the same year Aroma Teraju bought the said plot from 1MDB, the latter also disposed other land parcels in TRX to other state-linked entities. For instance, Lembaga Tabung Haji acquired 1.6 acres for RM188.5 million or more RM2,800 psf, while Affin Bank secured 1.25 acres for RM255 million or nearly RM4,700 psf.

“If Aroma Teraju paid anywhere near the prices paid by Tabung Haji or Affin Bank, it would mean Malaysian taxpayers would have been ripped off beyond their wildest imagination,” Pua claimed.

“Very simply, 1MDB purchased land from the government at RM64 psf and sold a fraction of the piece of undeveloped land back to the government five years later, at thousands of ringgit,” he added.


Image sourced from FMT.


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