MaGIC denies ‘quid pro quo’ between Uber and Putrajaya


PETALING JAYA: An agency set up to support technology entrepreneurship in the country has denied being involved in any arrangement to help ride-hailing service Uber gain some “favours” from the Malaysian government.

Malaysian Global Initiative and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), which was set up by Putrajaya in 2014, told FMT that it was not involved in any “quid pro quo” arrangement as alleged in a Bloomberg report today.

In the report, Uber’s law firm was said to be investigating a corporate donation, announced in August 2016, of tens of thousands of dollars to MaGIC.

The report also linked the US$30 million investment in Uber by Malaysian pension fund, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP), to the alleged payment, citing people familiar with the deal.

“Emil Michael and Eric Alexander, two former business executives at Uber, played key roles in negotiating those deals,” Bloomberg said in its report, quoting the same sources.

“We strongly refute our involvement in any quid-pro-quo arrangements,” MaGIC Marketing & Communications manager Ikram Khasim said in a WhatsApp message to FMT.

“At MaGIC we regularly collaborate with corporates, offering strategic platforms and initiatives to connect them with Malaysia’s leading entrepreneurial talent.”

Bloomberg had reported that lawyers are trying to determine whether there was any form of quid pro quo between Uber and Putrajaya.

This was due to the other allegation in the report that the payments to MaGIC could also be the reason why the Malaysian government passed the Land Public Transport (Amendment) Bill 2017 in July, that was favourable to Uber and other ride-hailing services.

The United States Department of Justice is currently investigating Uber to determine if it broke laws against overseas bribery.

As a result, Uber’s lawyers started their own review of the company’s operations in Asia and have since notified US officials about payments made by staff in Indonesia, the report said.

Malaysia is one of five countries where Uber is believed to have carried out activities against US laws. The other four are China, Indonesia, India and South Korea.

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