BY EILEEN NG (TMI)
December 30, 2013
Malaysian graft-busters cannot investigate the prime minister’s stepson for his controversial RM110 million New York apartment purchase because there is no law to look into individuals who buy and own assets beyond their income.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission ( MACC) said it proposed the clause to be included in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 but Putrajaya have yet to table the amendments in Parliament.
“Although this is not our full function, MACC welcomes the matter being included into the proposed amendments to the Act, which will be brought to Parliament next year,” it said in a statement last night.
The statement was released after opposition politicians urged the MACC to probe film producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz’s pricey purchase in New York. Riza is the son of the prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor (pic) from a previous marriage.
Media reports had said the 36-year-old had worked as an investment banker in London where he accumulated his fortune in equities and property. Riza owns Red Granite which produced Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest movie, Wolf of Wall Street, which is directed by the acclaimed Martin Scorsese.
A gossip columnist reported that Riza bought the condominium in December 2012 but the news only hit the headlines when whistle-blower website Sarawak Report published the news this week, questioning the origins of his fortune.
The condominium is said to be one of the most exclusive and expensive properties in the world, the gossip columnist said, featuring 15 rooms within the 7,738 sq ft space with fantastic views from a wraparound 1,244 sq ft balcony.
But a New York property website, the Real Deal, said Riza had bought a seven-bedroom property at West 63rd Street in Park Laurel, on November 19, 2012.
The LA Times reported this week that Red Granite raises money from a pool of undisclosed investors in the Middle East and Asia, and finances its movies on a one-off basis. Wolf of Wall Street apparently cost US$100 million which Red Granite funded in full.
“The company is able to greenlight a picture without a distribution deal in place. But because it doesn’t have a fund it can tap, Red Granite must convince its investors that an individual project is worth the risk, rather than having the comfort of money to underwrite an entire slate,” the report said of the company which was set up in 2009.
However, Malaysian opposition politicians were more interested in his wealth than his business acumen, with PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang, better known as Tian Chua, saying: “The revelation is shocking. At a time when the people are struggling with the cost of living, some are splurging.”
“Where did he (Riza Shahriz) get that much money? RM110 million is a lot,” he said when calling for MACC to investigate the matter.
The MACC statement said the proposal to investigate individuals who live beyond their means was also recommended by the Anti-Corruption advisory board as well as the parliamentary special committee on corruption.
It said the 2012 MACC annual report also mentioned the need for the Act to be amended to enable an individual to declare their wealth or assets without any preliminary investigation done on them first.
“The commission and the public see this as a restraint towards efforts to tackle corruption effectively because some public office holder or civil servants own assets which are not in line with their incomes,” the MACC said. – December 30, 2013.