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Perwaja's money found in British Virgin Islands, says ACA

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 (Hrkh) - The Anti-Corruption Agency said the failed Perwaja company's missing US$1.7 billion has been found to be with a company registered in a Caribbean tax haven.

ACA director Ahmad Zaki Husin was quoted as saying that investigators were trying to identify who was for the transfer of the money.

Perwaja, a project by prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, has recorded losses amounting to billions of ringgit.

AFP quoted Ahmad Zaki telling Wawasan Merdeka, another paper owned by UMNO, that he knew where the money was.

"We know the money was taken out of Malaysia to Hong Kong then to Japan, and deposited in an account in Switzerland," he claimed.

"From our probe we found out the money, some RM6.4 billion, was finally deposited in a foreign company registered in the British Virgin Islands."

Earlier, former Perwaja chairman Eric Chia, a close friend of Mahathir, told Singapore's Straits Times that the court would be the "best platform" for him to clear his name. Eric also accused former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim of not responding to his appeal for discussion after the latter, as Finance Minister revealed irregularities in Perwaja.

By 1996, Perwaja had been reported to have accumulated losses and liabilities totalling RM9.9 billion. The company had amassed another RM800 million in losses in the past four years.

Meanwhile, DAP chairman Lim Kit Siang has urged ACA to admit its failure, and called for a royal commission of inquiry into the Perwaja scandal.