KUALA LUMPUR: More than RM1bil (US$243.25mil) has been seized by Malaysia from a bank account of state-owned China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering LTD (CPP).
It was reported that the seizure comes nearly a year after Malaysia suspended two pipeline projects, valued at US$2.3bil, on which CCP was the lead contractor.
According to a Singapore-based newspaper, the Malaysian government ordered HSBC this month to transfer the funds held in the Chinese firm’s account to Suria Strategic Energy Resources, which is wholly owned by the Malaysian Finance Ministry.
But this unilateral transfer of funds bemused CPP as it draws out of its account without notification.
Officials of Malaysia’s finance ministry, the office of its prime minister and the pipeline firm’s Malaysia office did not respond to requests from the media to comment.
Even HSBC declined to comment, as it is due to client confidentiality.
An official of CPP’s parent, China National Petroleum, also declined to comment.
It was reported on 2016 that CPP won a contract from the government of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to build a petroleum pipeline stretching 600 km (373 miles) along the west coast of peninsular Malaysia and a 662-km (411-mile) gas pipeline in Sabah.
However, when Najib was defeated by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the 2018 election, the projects got suspended. Dr Mahathir has vowed to renegotiate or cancel what he calls “unfair” Chinese projects authorised by Najib. The trade partners agreed this year to resume building a multi-billion-dollar rail project, after having shaved nearly a third of its costs, following months of talks that strained ties..