Malaysia’s Najib to Probe Melbourne Property Graft Allegations

Malaysian authorities will investigate allegations made by an Australian newspaper linking officials of a government agency with property fraud in Melbourne, Prime Minister Najib Razak said late Tuesday.

The Age reported that officials had been involved in buying property at inflated prices. The allegations come as Najib’s government grapples with a scandal involving state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd., which has come under scrutiny for overpaying for assets with borrowed money.

“Authorities here will do a detailed investigation of the allegations,” Najib said in a Twitter post. “If there is any evidence of wrong doing and misuse of funds, action will be taken.”

Top officials from a subsidiary of Majlis Amanah Rakyat, an agency that provides government scholarships, and two Malaysian businessmen were involved in using public funds to buy property at a price inflated by A$4.75 million ($3.7 million), The Age reported. The additional money from the sale of Dudley House to MARA was sent back to Malaysia as bribes, The Age reported, citing documents and e-mails from a liquidator.

MARA “will start a thorough investigation” into the matter, the government agency said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. MARA said it “would not hesitate to take any action to safeguard its integrity should there be any irregularities.”

The acquisition was for a five-story building to house MARA-sponsored students in Melbourne, the agency said.

MARA, which means Peoples Trust Council in the Malay language, was set up in the 1960s to mainly aid ethnic Malays in education and business. It also offers overseas scholarships and operates junior colleges across Malaysia.

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