MACC investigates Felda's London hotel purchase

Bede Hong

MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad has directed a team to open investigating papers into the hotel purchase. – The Malaysian Insight pic, July 14, 2017.

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is investigating the purchase of a hotel in London by Felda Investment Corporation.

The purchase of the four-star hotel, located in the affluent Kensington district, was made between 2013 and 2015, the MACC said in a statement today.

MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad has directed a team to open investigating papers into the purchase. 

MACC said investigation teams have seized documents in connection with the purchase and are conducting an “early assessment” of the case. 

Several “vital” witnesses will also be called up soon to record their statements. 

“Based on information from our initial investigation, FIC is believed to have bought the hotel at a far higher price than normal, causing FIC to incur losses amounting to millions of ringgit,” MACC said.

MACC said further investigations would determine whether there was abuse of power or corruption.

The hotel the MACC referred to is likely the Grand Plaza Kensington Hotel which was purchased by FIC in December 2014 for £60 million (RM330 million).

The Grand Plaza Kensington is a four-star hotel with 62 units of guest rooms, located at Lexham Gardens within the exclusive district of Kensington and Chelsea. 

The acquisition is FIC’s first London property and Felda’s second. 

The purchase was made under FIC CEO Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil and while Isa Samad was chairman of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), another Felda subsidiary.

In March 2015, MACC questioned an unnamed son of Isa’s over the Kensington purchase, according to Malaysiakini, citing a source privy to the investigations.

In May that year, Paul Low, the minister in charge of transparency and integrity, told Parliament that MACC found no wrongdoing in FIC’s London purchase.

In January this year, newly-appointed Felda chairman Shahrir Abdul Samad ordered all FIC board members to resign to facilitate the re-organisation of the company.

Isa resigned from FGV on June 19 after a public row with FGV president and CEO Zakaria Arshad over questionable deals worth hundreds of millions.

Isa has since been appointed acting chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

FIC was previously known as Capital Protocol Sdn Bhd before it was incorporated by Felda in July 2013.

It is primarily involved in non-plantation activities such as property development and hospitality services. 

According to its website, FIC invested in chip manufacturer IRIS Corporation Bhd, property development firm Encorp Bhd and Barakah Offshore Petroleum Bhd, its first foray into the oil and gas industry. – July 14, 2017.

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