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    Worklife news

    Hungary’s purchase from a Malaysian businessman sued by Bruce Willis

    Worklife news Aug 5, 2021 at 11:11
    Malaysian businessman Vinod Sekhar
    Malaysian businessman Vinod Sekhar sold 6 258 respirators as part of a very favourable business deal. For him, at least, since he bought a private jet and a luxury yacht in the middle of the pandemic.

    Amidst the pandemic in April 2020, Hungary only had 2,000 respirators. As a result, prime minister Viktor Orbán decided to buy more medical supplies. He said that Hungary would need 7500-8000 respirators and hospital beds in the worst case, so another 5 500-6 000 respirators needed to be bought. 

    In the end, 16 863 respirators were bought, out of which 6 258 came from a Malaysian company. The contract was the most unfavourable for Hungary, as the European country paid the highest average price for the largest batch. The full price indicated in the contract was 559.6 million dollars.

    Details in the contract were changed as well. Initially, Sekhar’s private Singapore bank account number was written in the agreement, which was later changed. Two companies were marked, Havelock International, owned by Sekhar Assets registered at the British Virgin Islands, and Silk Road Management Holding Group in Hong Kong. The case is interesting for various reasons. First of all, the Hungarian prime minister frequently talks about the great Hungarian-Chinese relations. Yet, the purchase was made with the intervention of a Malaysian businessman instead of making the large purchase directly from China. Secondly, the price was only favourable for the businessman, but not Hungary. Furthermore, the Malaysian businessman had been involved in some questionable cases in the past.

    Thirteen years ago, Die Hard superstar Bruce Willis himself sued Prince Imran Ibni Tuanku Ja’afar and Datuk Vinod B. Sekhar over a $2 million investment in “green rubber”. The actor claimed damages of $900,000 and a 10 per cent annual interest. – wrote Reuters.

    The news agency also wrote that “Willis said the pair have falsely claimed to have wired $900,000 they still owe him and made specious excuses about when it would be returned.” In 2010 The Scotsman wrote about a donation that was “meant to be the biggest donation ever made to a Scottish university, a philanthropic gesture that would signify a new era of partnership between Scotland and Malaysia. Yet two and a half years on, the Malaysian tycoon who pledged £8 million to the University of St Andrews for a new medical school has yet to hand over a penny and is now facing jail in his home country for violating bankruptcy conditions.” The article mentioned Vinod Sekhar. This year, even Malaysia Now reported on the case, writing about the fact that the opposition party in Hungary called out the deal for being opaque and causing oversupply. The publication also mentions that “the Hungarian chapter of a global anti-corruption body views the country’s purchase of medical equipment last year as mired in secrecy, and has filed a freedom of information request to obtain further details”.

    In a recent interview with Twenty Two 13, Sekhar said that the country he was working with was anxious, and the officials there were no strangers as he had a business interest there.

    “They needed ventilators, and they reached out. What do I know about ventilators? I asked people here, and they were asking for high prices. I got my trust company in Singapore to source out for ventilators as well, but what was happening was that people were going directly to China with loads of cash and buying them in large quantities. Through a friend, we managed to secure some ventilators. I didn’t like the price and even told the European country about it, but they were only interested in saving their people. If it happened (a spike in Covid-19 cases) and they didn’t have the equipment, they would be blamed. They would rather be overprepared. I admire their tenacity; putting their people first.” – the businessman explained. The issue of Sekhar’s involvement in the questionable deal was originally brought to light in a video posted by Márton Tompos, a politician in the opposition party called Momentum. In the video, he calls Sekhar “one of Malaysia’s most infamous scammers”.

    Written by Muhammad Zuhaili exclusively for