PUTRAJAYA: A Felda-owned hotel in the upmarket Kensington area in London is now in the spotlight as the anti-graft body launches a new probe.
The move followed fresh information obtained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which showed that it was purchased at a much higher price, resulting in huge losses amounting to millions of ringgit.
MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad has ordered a thorough investigation into the purchase of the high-end property.
The probe will focus on uncovering any possible elements of corruption or abuse of power in the process of acquiring the property.
When met at a Hari Raya open house hosted by MACC in Pulau Ketam, Port Klang, yesterday, Dzulkifli said relevant documents in relation to the purchase had been seized.
“Investigations are already being carried out. We are in the midst of scrutinising the documents.
“Several key witnesses will also be called in very soon to have their statements recorded,” he said.
Felda Investment Corporation (FIC) – the investment arm of Felda – was said to have acquired the four-star hotel between 2013 and 2015.
The hotel was purchased for a total of £60mil (RM330mil), making it the 12th investment in Felda’s group hospitality portfolio.
In December 2014, then Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad launched the hotel.
The property in question comprises 62 units of guest rooms and two units of three-bedroom serviced apartments.
FIC was established in 2013 with a focus on real estate, hospitality and the oil and gas sectors.
Recently, newly appointed chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad said Felda was looking to hive off its overseas assets and hotels, including the Grand Plaza Kensington Hotel.
He was quoted as saying that Felda was mulling whether to dispose the hotel for more than RM500mil, adding that the returns from the hotel investment did not justify its stay in the industry.
Last month, MACC said investigation papers on alleged improprieties involving Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) would be submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for a decision.
Among those questioned by anti-graft officers were Mohd Isa and his wife Puan Sri Bibi Sharliza Mohd Khalid, suspended FGV group president and chief executive officer Datuk Zakaria Arshad and several FGV directors.
The MACC started investigating FGV following claims of improprieties and abuse of power that were brought to its attention following a management crisis.
On June 6, Zakaria and three key executives were asked to take an indefinite leave of absence.