Boustead Holdings Bhd’s acquisition of an 80 per cent stake in Astacanggih Sdn Bhd is an attempt to silence controversial carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli alleged today.
The PKR strategy director also accused Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi of abusing his power by spending public money through government investment fund Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT), which owns Boustead, to acquire the loss-making property development company.
“This is worse than a bailout ... this is outright bribery to practically pay off and silence (Deepak),” Rafizi told a press conference here.
The politician added that if the recent allegations made by Deepak over the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu had not been considered serious, it was unlikely that LTAT would have proceeded with the buyout.
Deepak recently also exposed an alleged deal between Awan Megah Sdn Bhd, the company owned by Selangor Wanita Umno chief Senator Datuk Raja Ropiaah Abdullah, and the federal government for the a parcel of land involved in the acquisition by Boustead.
He said that Deepak’s allegation had likely “frightened” the Barisan Nasional (BN) government so much that it had instructed Zahid to proceed with the move.
Rafizi claimed that acquiring Astacanggih was not a sound investment, and Zahid was being irresponsible by jeopardising the contributions of armed forces members through Boustead and its subsidiary, Bakti Wira Development Sdn Bhd, which financed the deal.
“As the minister responsible for this deed, Zahid must be careful in making sure that the investment made by Bakti Wira will be in the best interest of members of the army,” Rafizi said.
He argued that Astacanggih is a company with poor track record and had failed to file any of its financial statements. It was also burdened with RM98 million of outstanding debt with banking institution Kuwait Finance House.
He also disputed the RM30 million valuation for the stake in Astacanggih, explaining that the price was achieved through a “willing buyer, willing seller” agreement.
The same type of agreement was used in valuing the price of land going to acquired by Bakti Wira from Awan Megah, which Rafizi claimed was double the price of the land plots adjacent to it.
He referred to report by Utusan Malaysia in December 2005 that said another subsidiary of Boustead, Jendela Hikmat Sdn Bhd, had acquired a 236ha land for RM230 million, or RM390,000 per acre, compared to RM650,000 per acre for the land Bakti Wira is acquiring.
Rafizi further claimed that the government will be paying Awan Megah RM130 million for a piece of land that is yet to be transferred to the company.
“I echo Deepak’s claim ... that it is akin to the federal government paying RM130 million to Awan Megah for land that does not exist,” he added.
Rafizi also stressed that PKR will be concentrating on this issue in coming days, and will use any means possible to stop the deal from going through.
Yesterday, Deepak had said that he was forced to sell his company to cover the losses incurred in a deal with the Selangor Wanita Umno chief that went sour.
On Thursday, the controversial businessman withdrew his lawsuit against Putrajaya for an alleged breach of agreement over land in Bukit Raja, Selangor on the same day Boustead reported it bought an 80 per cent stake in Astacanggih for RM30 million.
Deepak has made various allegations about the deal that involved Raja Ropiaah, but has disappeared from public view since December 13.
But he resurfaced yesterday to explain the sale of his firm to Boustead.
“My shareholders and me have sold our shares in Asta Canggih for RM30 million which is our actual cost price. RM13 million (for) Raja Ropiah, RM8 million political contribution, RM7 million financial cost, RM2 million legal and miscellaneous cost, as this ultimatum was forced upon us,” Deepak said in a text message.
State news agency Bernama reported that in a filing with Bursa Malaysia, Boustead said its wholly-owned unit, Bakti Wira Development Sdn Bhd, acquired the shares from Prestige Dimension Sdn Bhd and other minority shareholders of Astacanggih on December 20.
Bakti Wira Development and Astacanggih also signed an agreement with Awan Megah to acquire 80.94ha of freehold land in Klang, Selangor, for RM130 million.