04 Sep 2020
Federal police have seized properties and cash worth $1.6 million over an alleged scheme to use the Melbourne property market to funnel millions of dollars of funds from a Malaysian government entity to corrupt officials.
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 August 18 seizure of properties linked to Mr Teen marks one of several rare but important wins for federal agents in the battle against Australian businesses bribing overseas officials or using offshore tax havens to allegedly engage in serious international financial crime. Among the cases was the guilty plea secured by the AFP of a Sydney businessman who bribed officials on the island of Nauru to win mining concessions.
The case against Mr Teen involves the Australian end of a sophisticated alleged bribery scheme involving offshore accounts and numerous overseas officials who are yet to face justice. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have obtained a leaked draft report by auditors Ernst and Young prepared for the Malaysian government which alleges multiple serving and former officials — including a powerful Malaysian political figure — 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 Caulfield.
The charging of Dennis Teen and the seizure of his property was sparked by a 2015 investigation by the newspapers who first revealed the alleged bribe payments funnelled through various Australian properties. The alleged victims 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.
In a statement, the federal police confirmed its criminal assets confiscation team had seized properties linked to Mr Teen’s alleged criminal offending.
By Nick McKenzie, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September 2020
Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald
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