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On Najib’s advice, Tabung Haji to sell land bought from 1MDB, says chairman

KUALA LUMPUR (May 9): Under fire in the past few days over a deal with debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), pilgrims' fund Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) has decided to sell the land it bought from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) for RM188.5 million last month, its chairman said today.

Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (pictured) said that the fund has been advised by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to sell the land at the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project in order to respect the "sensitivity" of Tabung Haji depositors.

Azeez said Najib had advised him to dispose of the land so that the fund's reputation is not "tarnished" due to its business transaction with 1MDB.

The land will be sold to a buyer at a profit of at least RM5 million and will be concluded within the next few weeks, Azeez told a press conference today.

Najib is also Finance Minister and chairman of 1MDB's advisory board.

"We want to respect the concerns of the taxi drivers and those at villages who are worried about their deposit money," Azeez said today.

He still defended the purchase, however, saying Tabung Haji stood to make an annual return of 9%.

The fund bought the land with the view of developing a residential tower that could have yielded a profit of RM180 million within three years, he said.

"We will find another land to invest in. This proves that this plot of land is not difficult to sell. We only held the title for a month and it is still profitable for us," he said, adding that there were three potential buyers that were being considered by the Tabung Haji board of directors.

He rejected notions that the purchase from the troubled state owned strategic investment arm was a form of "bailout".

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