Menara Ilham probe: It’s an open secret, says PM

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Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim today urged the public to give the MACC time to conduct its investigations following the seizure of a property-related tycoon Daim Zainuddin.

  • Daim refused to disclose financial information to MACC
  • Seizure allegedly linked to corporate transaction in 1997 related to Renong-UEM deal

Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers at Masjid Kota Damansara today, Anwar alluded that the investigations were related to someone who had amassed riches.

“Let (the authorities) investigate. It is an open secret. Someone had reaped so much wealth. Let there be a probe,” he said.

Shafwan Zaidon

Yesterday, Channel News Asia claimed that the seizure of Menara Ilham – a commercial building in the heart of Kuala Lumpur – took place after Daim refused to comply with the MACC’s request to disclose financial information.

CNA claimed that the seizure was linked to an anti-money laundering probe which began in late May into a corporate transaction in 1997 related to the Renong Bhd and United Engineers Malaysia Bhd (UEM) deal.

However, the report, citing anonymous sources purportedly close to Daim, claimed that he had told the MACC that he was not involved in the Renong-UEM deal.

Meanwhile, Anwar said MACC’s probe proved that the anti-graft body was independent and would investigate anyone regardless of their status.

He said there is no ulterior motive behind the seizure.

“This is MACC’s duty and there is no need to read between the lines.

“We can’t go around assuming that there is some sort of ulterior motive at play every time the authorities probe renowned figures,” he told reporters when met after Friday prayers.

Anwar said MACC had a duty to probe people regardless of whether they were “Tuns” or “Tan Sris”, or risk criticism that they only “went after the small fry, instead of the head honchos.”

He added that the authorities should be given the leeway to carry out their investigations to uncover the truth.

Last night it was reported that MACC seized Ilham Tower under Section 38(1) of the MACC Act, which deals with the seizure of immovable property.

According to a notice by the MACC, the anti-graft agency seized the tower after it found an offence under the MACC Act 2009.

“Take notice that according to Section 38(5) of the MACC Act 2009, whereby anyone that goes against this notice or carries out any actions that are against this notice, has committed an offence that can be fined no more than twice the amount of the said value, or RM50,000, or whichever higher amount, and can be jailed for a period no longer than two years,” the notice read.

The notice was placed in an advertisement dated Dec 18 which MACC placed in a local media.

A staff member in Menara Ilham said that despite the MACC seizure notice, it was still “business as usual”.

“No comments. But it was business as usual,” the unnamed staff member said briefly.

A receptionist at Element Hotel, which operates out of the building, also said the hotel was operating as usual with rooms available.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based Channel News Asia (CNA) quoted financial executives close to Daim as saying that the seizure was effected yesterday after Daim’s refusal to submit to MACC’s petition to declare his and his family’s financial holdings.

CNA claimed that Daim told MACC officials that he had nothing to do with the Renong-UEM deal and in early December, the former finance minister was told by MACC that he would no longer receive any extension,

It was reported that Daim maintained that the deal involving UEM acquiring a 33% interest in Renong was purely a corporate transaction between companies governed by their respective managements, boards of directors and shareholders.

Menara Ilham, built at an estimated cost of US$580mil (RM2.7bil) is located in the prime commercial and high-rise residential property area around the KLCC.

In May this year, MACC had said it was gathering information involving alleged misappropriation of RM2.3bil by a former minister and a businessman.

Sources said the probe was a continuation of the disclosure of confidential documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJ), also known as the Pandora Papers, over transactions carried out at offshore financial centres.

The Pandora Papers refer to millions of leaked documents made public in 2021, which allegedly revealed offshore accounts of present and past leaders from around the world, including presidents, prime ministers, billionaires, and prominent business people.