Four Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) officials have been told to go on leave pending investigations into the January purchase of land valued at RM2 billion.
The Star reported that the four were put on leave as the authorities, including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), investigate further into how the sale was concluded.
In June this year, former Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim resigned from his post over the controversy.
The controversy over the sale of land came about because the proceeds were alleged to have been used to settle some of the liabilities of debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The issues were the pricing and speed in which the transaction was completed. The RM2 billion price tag is what the land would have cost if the purchase was for commercial reasons.
However, in BNM’s case the purchase was not for commercial reasons, hence, the contention was the price should have been lower.
Also, the money was transferred to the federal government before the full transaction was completed.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the 22.5-hectare plot of land, located adjacent to the bank’s Sasana Kijang complex in Kuala Lumpur, had been sold to raise funds and bailout 1MDB.
BNM had purchased the plot on Jan 24 this year, a week after 1MDB’s December 27, 2017 deadline to pay off part of its debts to the Abu Dhabi state fund.
The land was supposedly acquired by BNM to be utilised for the relocation of the Global Islamic Finance University and the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance.
BNM is also alleged to have overpaid for the land, a claim the bank has since denied.
Before resigning, Muhammad said it was BNM that had approached the Ministry of Finance to buy the land and was under no pressure over the purchase.
He said it was an “arm’s length transaction” and that it was common for the central bank to acquire land.