In Johor, police nab eight suspects, four with Datuk titles, for alleged RM100m state land fraud

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Police arrested seven members of a cooperative’s board of directors (BOD), four of whom have Datuk titles, and a land office official for their alleged involvement in a RM100 million land transfer fraud involving the South-east Johor Development Authority (Kejora).

Johor police chief Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat said the suspects arrested in an operation dubbed “Operation Pekaka” consisted of local men, aged 46 to 75.

“Several of those arrested are members of the cooperative’s BOD and a land office official who was responsible when the ownership transfer was carried out.

Mukhriz Hazim

“The suspects were detained between 3pm and 8pm yesterday by investigators when they appeared to give their statements to the authorities in Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor,” said Kamarul Zaman during a media conference at the Johor police contingent headquarters here today.

Kamarul Zaman said police started probing the case after receiving a report in January from an assistant land officer of a statutory agency belonging to a ministry.

He said the complainant alleged that three land lots, totalling more than 1,699 hectares and belonging to Kejora, were transferred without permission.

“The land in the Kluang district has a market value of more than RM100 million and was transferred to a private company without the knowledge and permission of the agency concerned.

“The three lots in the case are land awarded by the state government to Kejora in 1987 with a value of RM1.47 million,” said the state’s top cop, referring to Kejora which is an agency under the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.

Kamarul Zaman explained that the land in question was initially leased to a cooperative in 1994, but the said cooperative has since been dissolved.

“We believe that during the liquidation period, certain things happened that had caused the land to be transferred to other individuals with a value exceeding RM100 million.

“The land’s ownership transfer was only detected in the middle of last year and a review found that the land is now being cultivated as an oil palm plantation,” he said.

According to Kamarul Zaman, throughout the investigation period, a total of 28 witnesses consisting of company directors, secretaries, lawyers, liquidators, officials from the state Land and Mines Office and statutory agency officials were called.

He added that the case was being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

Kamarul Zaman said the suspects were all granted police bail for a month, while police draw up the investigation papers.

“We will then wait for further instructions from the deputy public prosecutor’s office,” he added. – MMO