BANK Negara Malaysia (BNM) yesterday said it had approached the government to buy over a RM2 billion plot of land to develop a financial education hub.
Contrary to claims, BNM governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim said the government did not initiate the move on the 22.5ha land.
“To be clear about it, it was not the government that wanted to sell that land to us. We actually approached the government many months ago to buy the land ,” Muhammad told the Edge Financial Daily on the sidelines of an event in Siem Reap yesterday.
BNM, on Jan 4, had announced the acquisition of the land from the government.
It had said the land was near its Sasana Kijang Complex, which is equipped with conference and state-of-the-art training facilities.
The land was for the relocation of the Global Islamic Finance University and the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance, as well as future development of education and training facilities, it added.
This came on the heels of the announcement by Finance Ministry-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd on Dec 27 last year that it had made its final payment of US$600 million to International Petroleum Investment Co (Ipic) PJSC, ahead of the Dec 31 deadline.
Muhammad also told the Edge that the acquisition was an “arm’s length transaction", where both buyer and seller were not under any pressure from the other party to execute the deal.
On allegations that the government had used the funds from the land sale to make its final payment to Ipic, Muhammad said: “That is the government’s business (on how it uses the proceeds).
“It is best to ask the government, not us.
“As far as we are concerned, we wanted to buy the land for our own development.”
He stressed that BNM had been requesting and convincing the government to sell the land to it for many months.
“It so happened that last November or December, the negotiations between us came to fruition (and) we are quite happy to acquire the land at that price,” he added.
Muhammad said it was common for BNM to acquire land.
“The acquiring of land is nothing new to us. We have acquired many (tracts of) land over many decades. It is not as if it’s something that we are doing for the first time,” he said.
“And, when we acquire land, we acquire at market (value) and, hence, we make sure that it conforms to the best market practices and norms.”