Australian police have charged a man with bribing a Malaysian official in order to secure the sale of a multi-million-dollar apartment complex in Melbourne to a subsidiary of Majilis Amanah Rakyat (Mara).
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Boon Lye Teen, also known as Dennis Teen, was charged on July 9 with bribing a foreign official and for four counts of false accounts related to the sale in 2013 of a student accommodation block called Dudley House (above) in Melbourne to Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd.
Teen, 68, said to be a Malaysian domiciled in Australia, has been charged with bribing a foreign public official on March 8, 2013, in Vermont South, Melbourne.
The charges come five years after an investigation by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald which revealed the price of the property had allegedly been inflated by AUD4.75 million (RM14.25 million) to provide kickbacks to a group of Malaysian officials.
Court documents allege that Teen “provided, or promised to provide, a benefit, namely the sum of AUD4.75 million (RM14.25 million) to other persons, including one “Zach Zainal” and one “Erwan Azizi”, with the intention of influencing a foreign public official in Malaysia in order to obtain or retain business, namely the sale of a student residential apartment complex”.
During a filing hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates Court, prosecutor Santo De Pasquale from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions told the court that Australian police will allege the original agreed sale price for the property was AUD17.85 million (RM53.55 million) but it was later sold for AUD22.6 million (RM 67.8 million), with AUD4.75 million (RM14.25 million) paid to Malaysian officials.
De Pasquale said that after settlement, there were allegedly discussions between Teen and several “Malaysian agents” who police allege acted on behalf of Malaysian public officials.
“A number of emails, SMS messages, WhatsApp messages and the like disclose about AUD4.75 million (RM14.25 million) was provided to foreign officials in Malaysia,” The Sydney Morning Heraldquoted him as telling the court.
Pasquale said during the investigation, the Australian Federal Police had requested the assistance of Malaysian authorities who had provided some material to them.
The offence of bribing a foreign public official carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and or a fine of AUD1.8 million.
The eight-month investigation by The Age and The Sydney Morning Heraldtraced suspicious money flows, court files and corporate records across three continents.
The investigations revealed that the Malaysian group demanded an AUD4.75 million (RM14.25 million) bribe in return for guaranteeing that the funds would flow from Mara Inc to buy the building.
The bribe was allegedly paid via sham invoices issued to the Australian developers from Malaysian companies. The invoices demanded payment for non-existent services, including “professional advice” and “consultancy and advisory fees”.
Court documents show that Teen was charged with four counts of falsifying accounts relating to a number of invoices made out to the developers of the property for services such as “advertising and promotion fees, marketing and professional advice, and consultancy and advisory fees”.