Multiple investigative agencies have raided offices linked to Kuala Lumpur-based businessman Vinod Sekhar, in what is believed to be the start of one of the biggest money laundering cases since the 1MDB investigations three years ago.
MalaysiaNow has learnt that officers from the National Financial Crime Centre (NFCC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), as well as from Bank Negara Malaysia and the Inland Revenue Board have conducted raids at the premises of Petra Group.
Petra Group, which operates a chain of companies and organisations, is headed by Vinod, a businessman who is a strong supporter of PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim.
A source close to the investigations told MalaysiaNow that the raid some two weeks ago in Bangsar followed months of investigations into alleged money laundering and tax evasion involving hundreds of millions of ringgit.
It said officers had seized “some documents and items” as part of the probe.
It is also learnt that the raids were carried out while Vinod was out the country.
When contacted, top officials from NFCC and MACC refused to comment or give further details, their standard response to corruption and money laundering investigations.
Vinod, 53, is the son of the late BC Sekhar who was credited with modernising Malaysia’s rubber industry. He was declared bankrupt by the High Court in 2005 but cleared of his bankruptcy status last year.
In June, MalaysiaNow reported that Vinod through GR Technologies, a company with an address in Bangsar, had secured the lion’s share of billions of dollars worth of contracts to supply ventilators to the Hungarian government.
Hungary’s purchase of ventilators from various suppliers kicked up a storm last year at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe, with opposition politicians there calling out the deals for being opaque as well as resulting in an oversupply.
They also said the ventilators bought by Hungary were overpriced, and questioned why the purchases were made through the foreign affairs ministry.
Vinod confirmed getting the contract but insisted that “everything was above board”, adding that he had received a “normal percentage” in commission.
Documents obtained by MalaysiaNow from Hungary showed Budapest agreeing to pay Vinod a total of US$559,600,000, which at the time of the contract in May 2020 converted to about RM2.43 billion, through several bank accounts.
Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) has urged Hungary to release specific details related to the contracts to Vinod, saying there are questions on whether GR Technologies had fulfilled transparency regulations in the country.
TI’s Hungary chapter also questioned why Budapest agreed to pay the fees charged by GR Technologies to third parties, as well as whether the government had gone through a competitive bidding process.