Syed Mokhtar firm denies shortchanging Mindef RM258m

Modified 23 Feb 2019, 1:19 pm

Kelana Ventures Sdn Bhd (KVSB), a company owned by tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, has denied shortchanging the Defence Ministry RM258 million in a land swap deal.

This concerns one of the ministry’s 16 projects, which reportedly suffered over RM500 million in total losses due to mismanagement and other factors.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had previously disclosed the losses, which involve projects dating back to 1997, on Feb 19.

Two days later, Mohamad's special functions officer Mohd Nasaie Ismail lodged a MACC report over the matter.

Bernama cited Nasaie as saying that one project was carried out by a private company in exchange for Kinrara army camp land.

Nasaie said this transaction raised questions, as the previous BN government had valued the land for RM500 million, despite it being priced at RM758 million by the Valuation and Property Services Department.

The Edge later cited sources as saying the company involved in the project was KVSB.

In a statement to The Edge today that was sighted by Malaysiakini, KVSB director Ahmed Kamil Mustafa Kamal clarified that the RM500 million valuation for the army camp had been based on its "existing condition".

Ahmed Kamil added that the valuation did not take into account future conversion premiums that had to be paid to secure commercial and residential status, as well as other restrictions and conditions that may be imposed by the Selangor state government.

Deal yet to be signed

In exchange for the Kinrara camp land, the KVSB director said the firm had pledged to construct a new army camp in Paloh, Johor at a cost of RM280.7 million.

It would also build a new logistics management training centre in Sendayan at a cost of RM137.3 million, as well as a new air force headquarters in Kementah at a cost of RM81.9 million.

The total cost for these three projects were RM499.9 million.

"The land-swap deal and the agreement to construct the above facilities have yet to be signed between KVSB and the Defence Ministry.

"However, at the request of the Defence Ministry, we have agreed to start construction works for the Paloh camp," Ahmed Kamil said.

The Paloh camp began construction during Hishammuddin Hussein's time as defence minister.

Paloh is located in Hishammuddin's parliamentary constituency, Sembrong.

The Paloh land swap deal had been singled out by Mohamad as one of four deals allegedly made in order to move army personnel and ensure a vote bank for certain politicians in past general elections.  

Hishammuddin has said that he has "nothing to hide" with regard to the land swap deals and has welcomed investigations into the matter.