KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has not ruled out the possibility of calling individuals, including Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was defence minister from 2009 to 2013, to assist in its probe over questionable land swap deals involving the Defence Ministry (Mindef).
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said investigation has begun following reports lodged from the office of the Defence Minister and former defence minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
Azam also confirmed that Hishammuddin handed over a report to MACC on the land swap deal via his aide last week.
"We will look at all the reports lodged by all parties and investigate any cases involving abuse of power and those within our purview," he told reporters at the closing ceremony of the anti-corruption training for officers of Thailand's National Anti-Corruption Commission (ONACC) here on Tuesday (May 21).
"We will call any individuals to assist our investigations. We want to identify any criminal elements, so give us some time.
"We will look at the whole of the audit report and the reports lodged with us," Azam added.
Asked if Dr Ahmad Zahid, who was defence minister from 2009 to 2013, were among them, Azam said "we must see first, but I do not rule out the possibility. Any individuals involved, we will call them."
Azam also confirmed that no arrests have been made so far, involving the case.
The Star reported on May 18 that the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee (GPFIC) had conducted an audit on the ministry, and had found 16 questionable land swap deals, which included the Muara Tuang and Penrissen camps in Sarawak.
The (GPFIC), which conducted the audit, said the involvement by the administrators posed a risk to the government, whereby comprehensive due diligence could not be carried out before submitting a proposal to the Cabinet for approval.
It also found that a former prime minister and an ex-defence minister were clearly involved in the land swap deal for the development of the Muara Tuang and Penrissen camps in Sarawak.
"In fact, the company that the minister proposed without any strong reasons could also be seen as involvement.
"This should be avoided to ensure governance and transparency in the appointment of contractors," said the report.
Based on the findings of the GPFIC, as of last December, five projects had been completed, two were under construction, and nine failed to meet the completion deadline. The other agreements have yet to be signed.
It was concluded that 13 of the 16 projects – including the construction of army camps in Bera, Segamat, Paloh and Hutan Melintang – were approved due to political consideration and not in national interest.
The GPFIC investigation revealed the government lost RM515.21mil due to extensions given for projects which could not be completed as scheduled, additional contracts that were not in the initial project plan, and land that was evaluated lower than current market price.