Former Westpac employee says forced to shift Malaysian govt funds

Former Westpac employee says forced to shift Malaysian govt funds
PHOTO: Reuters

PETALING JAYA - A former senior staff of Australian bank Westpac claimed that he was forced to illegally transfer Malaysian Government funds to a third party, according to an Australian newspaper report.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Michael Knight who handled the sale of the Dudley House deal in Melbourne, was confronted by a man bearing an Asian appearance outside his Brighton home on March 5, 2013.

"I know you have three children - you will do what I say," the unnamed man had told Knight while implying he was carrying a gun.

Fearing for the safety of his family, Knight claimed he was forced to repeatedly shift funds loaned to the Malaysian Government into his personal account before handing it to the man.

The daily also reported that Knight, who managed financing for property development at the bank, was assisting "a Malaysian government agency" in obtaining financing for the Dudley House deal.

Upon discovery that they wanted to buy the property at an overvalued price of A$22.5mil (S$23 million), Knight confronted the potential borrowers, claiming they were "clearly paying too much".

When his advice was not heeded, Knight believed the vendors were raking super profits and sharing it with Malaysian officials involved in the deal.

The paper reported that several hours after Knight agreed to finance the deal, he claimed he was approached by the mysterious man and was subsequently coerced to perform the transactions which he himself claimed were illegal.

The daily also quoted Knight's lawyer that his client wanted to approach the police but refrained out of fear for his family's safety.

When his actions were discovered in September 2013, the bank sacked Knight for obtaining property by deception and reported the incident to the police.

When charged in court, Knight pleaded guilty for moving the funds into his personal account and was sentenced to perform community service.

The controversy came to light when Australian daily The Age reported about the overpriced purchases in June, which prompted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to effect an investigation into the alleged corruption.

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