Early morning (Oct 31), The Star reported four Bank Negara Malaysia officials were put on leave as an investigation was initiated to look into a purchase of a RM2 billion plot of land, known as Lot 41.
The land was sold to BNM at the unreasonable rate. The RM2 billion price tag was only justifiable if the land was used for commercial purposes, The Edge reported.
BNM made the purchase in January and stated it would be used for the relocation of the Global Islamic Finance University and the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance. It wasn’t for commercial purposes thus contentions arose, claiming the deal price should have been much lower.
The speed of the deal and the price raised eyebrows and sparked a controversy. It surely didn’t help when BNM governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim resigned from his post in June since the furore.
Wall Street Journal reported on May 24 that Barisan Nasional administration had allegedly ordered BNM to pay 1MDB debt amounting to RM2 billion. WSJ claimed the money was given to the scandal-ridden company through a land deal instead of through the sale of the company’s power plants under its rationalisation programme, Malay Mail reported.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was said to be involved in the investigation but the anti-graft body later denied that, adding that it was an internal inquiry by the central bank.
In a brief statement, BNM said an independent party was commissioned for the probe but it wasn’t disclosed that what organization it was. They were tasked to review the case in August and confirmed that some of its officials were put on leave.
“The review is still ongoing. To facilitate the internal review, relevant officers of BNM have opted to take a leave of absence,” BNM confirmed over the reports today.