Ex Malaysian politician arrested over Australian property price rort

Malaysian authorities have arrested and charged a politician turned sovereign wealth fund chairman with bribery and money laundering over allegations he oversaw a scheme to inflate the price of Australian property purchases in return for kickbacks.

The charging of Dato Mohammad Lan Bin Allani by Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission was sparked by an investigation by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald into multimillion-dollar property acquisitions in Australia by a Malaysian government wealth fund set up to alleviate rural poverty.

Senior Malaysian political figure Mohammad Lan Bin Allani.

The commission used evidence in a leaked draft investigation report by auditors Ernst and Young and which was prepared for the Malaysian government but only made public after reporters in Australia published its contents in September.

That document, along with offshore bank records also uncovered by the newspapers, revealed how Mr Allani and other serving and former Malaysian officials may have extracted bribes worth up to $23.5 million by laundering funds via a number of Australian property developments including a student accommodation block called Dudley House in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield.

In September, the Australian Federal police seized properties and cash worth $1.6 million in connection to the same scheme.

The seized properties and funds in bank accounts were owned by Australian property developer Dennis Teen, his wife and their private companies. Mr Teen was charged in July over accusations he paid Malaysian government officials $4.75 million in bribes to facilitate the purchase of a property development in Melbourne by the Malaysian government.

The student accommodation block Dudley House, in Caulfield East, is at the centre of alleged transactions.

A former adviser to Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, who was not authorised to speak publicly, said the Malaysian authorities were forced to act after the draft Ernst and Young report was published and uploaded online in Australia. The report was picked up widely in the Malaysian press.

The victims of the allegedly corrupt scheme were poor rural Malaysians, who were meant to benefit from taxpayer funds held by the Malaysian government agency involved in the alleged bribery scheme.

But a number of Victorian small businesses who helped build one of the properties involved in the bribery scheme were also ripped off after money they were owed for work they did was siphoned to offshore bank accounts.

Over the past three months, the AFP made several high profile arrests of former executives in connection to the long running bribery scandal involving construction giant Leighton Holdings (now known as CIMIC) and a $1.5 billion project in Iraq. The highest profile corporate crime inquiry that remains on the AFP books involves Rio Tinto’s alleged bribery in Guinea, West Africa in 2011.

Know about a bribery or corruption case? Contact Nick McKenzie confidentially on [email protected]

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