Daim, Halim Saad silent on MACC probe

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Former senior minister Daim Zainuddin and businessperson Halim Saad have not responded to queries regarding MACC’s investigation into the alleged misappropriation of public funds worth more than RM2.3 billion.

Malaysiakini reached out to the two after a high-level source in the commission confirmed that Daim and Halim were called in for questioning last week to facilitate investigations.

“The two are Daim and Halim Saad,” said the source when asked who were the “former senior minister and prominent businessperson” summoned by MACC.

However, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, declined to divulge further details.

Malaysiakini had contacted Daim and Halim’s offices for comment and furnished a set of questions upon the request of the latter’s aide. However, there has been no response to date.

Last Friday, Bernama reported that MACC is investigating a former senior minister and a prominent businessperson with a Tan Sri title for the alleged misappropriation, which happened in the 1990s.

Yesterday, it was reported that both of them were called for questioning again.

The investigation is focused on the takeover of shares involving a public-listed company, which allegedly caused the decline of Malaysia’s economy in the 1990s.

MACC is reportedly also scrutinising the ownership of valuable assets by the businessperson, the former senior minister and their respective families both in Malaysia and abroad.

Although Malaysiakini has been unable to confirm with MACC the details surrounding the company, it is possible the probe is on the takeover of Renong Bhd shares by UEM in November 1997.

The acquisition of 723 million shares worth RM2.3 billion reportedly led to the KL Composite Index plunging by 20 percent.

Halim was the controlling shareholder of Renong at the time. He was also the then company’s executive chairperson.

He had granted a put option to UEM in January 1998 which gave the company the right to sell back 32.6 percent of Renong shares back to him at RM3.24 a share or RM3.2 billion.

This was the price at which UEM had earlier acquired the shares, causing a public outcry and accusations that Halim was using UEM to save himself and other shareholders by supporting Renong’s share price at a time when the market was plunging in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

According to news reports, MACC is investigating the former senior minister for purportedly orchestrating the takeover of the shares.

Daim, 85, had served as finance minister twice during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as prime minister from 1981-2003. He had also served as the chairperson of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) when Mahathir became prime minister again in 2018.

Last week, Bernama reported that the MACC investigation is a continuation and extension of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) disclosure of confidential documents regarding suspected transactions in several offshore financial centres.

“MACC has also recorded statements of about 14 witnesses in the past few weeks in relation to this investigation, including from prominent businesspeople and a former senior minister about the confidential documents revealed by the Pandora Papers,” the source added.

The Pandora Papers leak occurred in 2021 when an anonymous source shared with ICIJ 2.94 terabytes of confidential financial files, amounting to more than 11.9 million documents and other records, from 14 offshore service providers that set up and manage shell companies and trusts in tax havens around the globe.

Following this leak, Daim criticised Malaysiakini for what he claimed to be its “unending obsession” with him. This was after this news portal published a report on his offshore trusts. – Malaysiakini