Estate agents up in arms against illegal brokering by proptech companies
The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) wants the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers (BOVAEP) and the Ministry of Finance to take action against those who are circumventing the law by carrying out real estate practices illegally through property technology (proptech). In a statement yesterday, MIEA alleged that proptech startups from Singapore and within the country are claiming that they provide real estate technology solutions but are circumventing the law by carrying out real estate practices illegally. Its president Eric Lim said the real estate fraternity is concerned over such claims as the law allows real estate transactions to be handled only by real estate agents, real estate negotiators and property owners. He added that proptech startups should work with the over 20,000 real estate practitioners in the country and not take over the role of agents. (The Edge)

Flat growth expected in Penang’s property market this year
Growth of the property market in Penang is expected to remain flat this year in view of the unpredictable economic outlook and the market’s wait-and-see attitude. Henry Butcher Malaysia (Seberang Perai) Sdn Bhd associate director Fook Tone Huat said the US-China trade war, property overhang issue and difficulty in getting bank loans were some of the possible factors affecting the property market’s performance. “On a positive note, the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC)… might boost the residential property market’s performance to a certain extent,” he said. “However, with the state’s property overhang issue in the limelight, I think it is unlikely for the property market to recover this year,” he added. (Malay Mail)

Govt to dispose of Equanimity via direct sale after unsuccessful auction
The Government is turning to private treaty or direct sale to dispose of the Equanimity after an auction failed to obtain an agreeable price for the mega-yacht, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. The second phase (direct sale) is conducted through private treaty or direct sale, and is expected to end on March 31, 2019. Lim said the Government has a spent a total of RM14.22 million on the mega-yacht since securing it in August 2018. This comprises costs for maintenance, repairs, fuel, legal fees, insurance, and costs related with the process of selling the yacht among others. Currently, Equanimity is docked in Langkawi under the watch of the High Court. (The Edge)

Jho Low cries abuse as Putrajaya freezes RM48mil in dad’s accounts
Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho accused the Malaysian government today of abuse after authorities sought to freeze seven bank accounts belonging to his father who has been charged with money laundering in absentia. Yesterday, federal authorities applied to freeze seven bank accounts registered to Tan Sri Larry Low, the father to Jho Low, via a civil forfeiture action. The accounts are said to hold RM48 million believed to be from the larger misappropriation of 1MDB funds. Sources said Jho Low was suspected of transferring the funds into the accounts via foreign intermediaries. On March 21, investigators from the federal police’s Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Prevention division also posted a notice of seizure on the Low family mansion in Tanjung Bungah Park, Penang. (Malay Mail)

Najib’s SRC International trial to begin 3 April
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s high profile trial involving RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds will begin next Wednesday. Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali fixed April 3 for the trial to start following the Federal Court’s decision yesterday to lift the stay order on the proceedings granted by the Court of Appeal. The trial is set to start at 2pm on April 3, but further dates for the trial have yet to be fixed. (NST Online)