Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Malaysiakini - Hisham: I don't know what my brother's up to

Aidila Razak
Jun 6, 11

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein today denied a report by Australian newspaper which claimed that his brother was paid to secure a government contract for an Australian company.

NONESpeaking to reporters today, he claimed ignorance over his brother Haris Onn Hussein's (right) activities.

"Firstly, I don't even know what my brother is doing and secondly, I don't think an Australian (company) would do that," he said when met at the launching of the Dang Wangi district police station today.

Asked if he is denying all claims in the report, he said: "That was what I said. Yes."

According to Melbourne-based The Age, currency technology firm Securency hired Haris in 2009 to source for Malaysian contracts.

“Securency hired Haris Onn Hussein in the hope he would offer it access to, and influence over, Malaysia's top politicians,” said the report.

At the time, Hishammuddin was the Umno Youth chief and also the youth and sports minister.

Surency failed to win contract

Describing Haris as “well-connected”, the paper pointed out that he is not only Hishammuddin's brother but also first cousin to now Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

It further made note that Haris' father is former Prime Minister Hussein Onn, while his grandfather Onn Jaafar founded Umno. Najib and Hishammuddin are Umno president and vice-president respectively.

According to The Age, “it is common in parts of Asia for the relatives of politicians to be hired by foreign companies as agents”.

The Age posited that Securency had intended to benefit from Haris' connections as companies he owns shares in or serves as director seem to benefit from generous government concessions.

The acts of lobbying allegedly took place through Haris' company then known as Liberal Technology (now Lembah Sari Sdn Bhd). The firm failed to win any contracts.

Securency last won a major Malaysian contract in 2004, following a smaller job in 1998. Both contracts acquired via the services of another agent, businessman Abdul Kayum Syed Ahmad.

Company probed for bribery

However, The Age cautiously carried a disclaimer that it is not suggesting that either Najib or the home minister was involved in any of Securency's bids.

But the reports stressed that Haris owns shares in or sits on the board of several companies that have benefitted from government concessions for mandatory security labels for cigarette and alcohol manufacturers and toll highways.

Australian and British authorities have been investigating Securency, a world leading supplier of plastic banknotes, for allegedly bribing public officials in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nigeria to win contracts, according to the reports.

They add that such practices are criminal under Australian law. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Securency's majority shareholder is the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Additional reporting by Hazlan Zakaria

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