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Malaysia Today: Your source of independent news – UK probe into dead tycoon’s business practices

His operation allegedly exported cars to Malaysia using forged British papers

By Leslie Lopez, THE STRAITS TIMES

Kingdom were alerted to a luxury auto distribution operation involving Malaysia’s auto czar Tan Sri Nasimuddin Amin which was allegedly exporting cars to Malaysia using forged British vehicle-registration documents.

Now lawyers and auto executives wonder whether the probe will be abandoned following Tan Sri Nasimuddin’s death in the US yesterday of cancer.

Sources close to the situation told The Straits Times that the investigation is in its initial stages and stems from a business disagreement between Tan Sri Nasimuddin and his one-time British business partner, Mr Nigel Peter Albon.

According to the lawyers and auto executives, the dispute is over funds Tan Sri Nasimuddin allegedly owed Mr Albon.

In the course of the legal wrangling, the mechanics of Tan Sri Nasimuddin’s export operations surfaced.

The Malaysian tycoon was a major recipient of so-called Approved Permits (AP), which are essentially licences to import foreign cars into Malaysia. These APs are granted to a select group of government agencies and ethnic Malay businessmen like Tan Sri Nasimuddin.

Foreign auto industry executives have long argued for the scrapping of the controversial AP system citing concerns that the import licensing system is not well supervised, resulting in the loss of millions of ringgit in foregone tax revenues.

Auto industry executives say that in some instances new cars purchased overseas are passed off at the Customs entry point in Malaysia as second-hand vehicles using forged documents which predate the year of manufacture.

‘By backdating the year of manufacture, the importer pays less tax to the government,’ says a senior car industry executive familiar with the dispute between Tan Sri Nasimuddin and Mr Albon.

Executives from Tan Sri Nasimuddin’s Naza Group were not available for immediate comment.

Disputes between Tan Sri Nasimuddin and his business partners are not new.

Last year, he was embroiled in a fight with his Singapore partners over the distribution of Ferrari models in Malaysia.

Businessman Alfred Tan Chor How and his son, Edward, left Malaysia abruptly last year after they fell out with him over disagreements on how to run their car import business.

The elder Mr Tan is the patriarch of Singapore’s Hong Seh Group, a marine equipment supplier which diversified into the distribution of luxury cars in the early 1980s.

The company has been the sole agent for the distribution of Ferraris in Singapore since 1982 and added the Maserati and Bentley franchise to its list in the early 1990s.

The Tans struck a partnership with Tan Sri Nasimuddin in 1996 through a joint-venture company called Next Car Sdn Bhd.

Malaysia Today: Your source of independent news – UK probe into dead tycoon’s business practices

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