Irwan Serigar denies conflict of interest in Uber’s Malaysia investment

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PUTRAJAYA: Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah today denied that e-hailing ride Uber’s donation to a government agency was in exchange for an investment by Malaysian pension fund Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).

“It’s not true, it’s not true at all,” he told reporters here after a function.

He was asked if the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), which was set up by Putrajaya in 2014, was involved in any arrangement for Uber to gain some “favours” from Putrajaya.

In a Bloomberg report on Sept 20, MaGiC had said that it was not involved in any “quid pro quo” arrangement as alleged.

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 KWAP to the alleged payment, citing people familiar with the deal.

MaGIC is an agency under the finance ministry tasked with nurturing local start-ups and an entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Irwan: No conflict of interest

Irwan is the chairman of both MaGIC and KWAP.

When asked further if there was conflict of interest since he heads both agencies, he replied: “No, nothing, no conflict of interest.”

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 another 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, which 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.