Millions in Mitra grants handed to organisations with ties to senior politicians in top Indian-based party

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Misappropriated by high level executives who were cronies with political party leaders.

Millions of ringgit were handed out in grants from the Indian Community Transformation Unit (Mitra) to organisations with connections to senior leaders in a top Indian based political party, sources said.

The sources said the organisations had applied for funds to run floristry courses, tuition classes for primary school pupils, basic qualification certificates for medical assistants, and marriage courses but none took off.

The recipients had blamed the Covid-19 movement control orders for their failure to put the money to the use it was intended for, and they also could not account for the funds, the sources said.

“Preliminary investigations found that among the programmes that were mishandled were floristry courses, tuition classes for primary school students, basic certificates for medical assistants and marriage courses.

“It is estimated that tens of millions have been wasted. These companies and NGOs were supposed to use the Mitra allocation to implement socio-economic programmes for the Indian community in Malaysia.

“The investigation of this case will cover all forms of applications and grant allocation expenses that have been paid out by Mitra since 2018,” a source told The Malaysian Insight.

Mitra is a unit under the National Unity Ministry. It was established by the Najib Razak administration to fund programmes to raise the socio-economic status of the Indian community.

Sources said that of the total grants paid out, only 40% of it was spent on the purpose its applicants have stated while the rest was misappropriated by high-level executives who were cronies with political party leaders.

“Of the 17 individuals arrested over the case, one of whom is a woman, some have ties to former party leaders, relatives of the leader and even one is a member of an Indian-based political party in Selayang, Selangor.

Earlier this week the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC remanded 16 company directors, including a woman, on suspicion of misappropriation of millions of ringgit in Mitra grants.

The suspects, aged between 24 and 68, were arrested in the Klang Valley this week.

The MACC has since expanded its dragnet to include a review of all applications, expenditure reports and programmes related to the grants since 2019.

A source said 337 companies, associations and non-governmental organisations were identified to have been approved for grants worth a total of RM203 million from Mitra from 2019 to 2021.

“The highest allocation approved by Mitra was in 2019 for more than RM90 million. The money was approved for about 205 companies, associations and NGOs. Eight companies among these obtained grant allocations of more than RM1 million each,” added the source.

Sources told The Malaysian Insight a company director was believed to have applied for an allocation from the agency under the National Unity Ministry which he later shared with others.

MACC chief Azam Baki when contacted said the investigation was continuing with new information.

“I will not rule out the possibility that several more parties will be called; not only the recipients but those who are directly involved in granting the grants will also be called in,” he said. – TMI