KUALA LUMPUR: Lembaga Tabung Haji has denied that its move to acquire a parcel of land in the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) financial district for RM188.5mil is a bailout of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which owns the land.
Instead, the fund’s group managing director and CEO Datuk Johan Abdullah said it was a sound investment. He said they wanted a “piece of the action in the development”.
“This is not a bailout, we are not blindly pumping in money into a company,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
Johan said that whether 1MDB had obtained the land cheaply was relative and not part of Tabung Haji’s consideration.
1MDB had bought the entire 70 acres (28ha) for RM194.1mil while the land bought by Tabung Haji is a 1.6 acre (0.64ha) parcel.
“Our consideration is whether it’s a sound investment and how much are the potential returns, which must be competitive,” Johan said.
He said the price for the land was based on professional independent evaluation.
“As far as transparency and corporate governance are concerned, we have done all the due diligence needed. It’s not a call made by any individual. The investment met the risk reward profile of Tabung Haji,” said Johan.
“No one person can make the call without the internal due process which includes our investment panel, our board and up to the ministerial level.”
On Tuesday, a blog called The Benchmark released a set of documents purportedly detailing the purchase of two plots of land at TRX at an unreasonably high price from 1MDB.
The first, it alleged, was for RM194mil at RM2,860 per sq foot and the other was for RM578mil at RM3,900 psf.
Johan acknowledged that a second parcel of land – Signature Tower (Phase Two) in TRX – was offered to them.
“It was offered but we didn’t think it was a good value proposition and we rejected it,” he said.
Johan said he would be personally looking into how Tabung Haji documents were leaked and would be lodging a police report on the matter.
“We have to get to the bottom of this. It’s not fair to Tabung Haji,” he added. He lodged the report later.
Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) yesterday called on the authorities to investigate Tabung Haji over fears the move could jeopardise the savings of Muslims planning to perform the haj.
Abim president Amidi Abdul Manan, in a statement, urged both the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the issue.
Tabung Haji defends decision to buy TRX land from 1MDB