KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) says it is still investigating the controversial land swap deals involving the Defence Ministry, following claims by de facto Deputy Law Minister Mohamed Hanipa Maidin that there is only one investigation paper opened.
Its chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the land swap deals go back more than 25 years, so MACC needed more time as they faced difficulty obtaining evidence.
"We are talking about 25 years involving different ministers of defence and various civil servants who have changed over the course of the years.
"It is not as simple as just handing us an audit report," she said at the sidelines of the 11th International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing 2019 (IFCTF 2019) on Tuesday (Nov 5).
Latheefa was responding to news portal Malaysiakini's report that Hanipa, in a parliamentary reply, said that MACC only opened one investigation paper on the land swap deals involving the Defence Ministry.
"I looked at the news, and apart from the headlines, he did not say 'only'. It is not true to say (that).
"I believe Hanifa was talking about one of the many cases of the land swaps. MACC received definitely more than one: (it is) 16," she said.
Latheefa said they needed to find out why the deal was made, as well as why it was made in that manner.
"We are in the middle of investigating, and I believe not every case will be a full blown prosecution but you need to give us some time to sort it out," she said.
Last February, Mindef revealed that the government had lost more than RM500mil in land swap deals since 1997.
On May 17, the ministry handed over 14 reports on the alleged dubious land swap, after surrendering two reports earlier.
The reports were the findings of the Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee that had investigated 16 deals involving 1,183ha of land belonging to Mindef.
Besides the land value, the cost of the projects was estimated at RM4.88bil.
Findings on one of the audit reports stated that a former prime minister and former defence ministers were found to have been clearly involved in the land swap deal for the development of the Muara Tuang and Penrissen camps in Sarawak.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak was prime minister and Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was defence minister at the time.
On another matter, Latheefa also said MACC was still investigating the six US attack helicopters commissioned by Mindef in 2016.
The MD-530G helicopters were ordered by the ministry through a private company in Malaysia at a purchase price of RM321mil.
The IFCTF 2019 themed "Building Trust and Transparency: Collaborate, Accelerate, Strengthen", is jointly organised by the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers (AICB) and the Compliance Officers' Networking Group and is supported by Bank Negara Malaysia, Securities Commission Malaysia and the Labuan Financial Services Authority.
Also present at the event is AICB chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim.
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