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Malaysia’s ‘Casio king’ charged as PM Anwar’s corruption probe nets another Mahathir ally

In the latest case, public prosecutors on Wednesday accused prominent businessman Robert Tan Hua Choon of misleading the finance ministry in 2019 into granting his company, Spanco, a supply, repair, maintenance and management contract for the federal government’s vehicle fleet, worth nearly 4 billion ringgit (US$840 million).

In their charge sheet, prosecutors said Tan had allegedly “cheated the finance ministry” by misleadingly claiming his firm had set aside at least 30 per cent equity stake for the country’s Malay majority, which is a general government contract requirement.

The 83-year-old businessman, widely seen as close to Daim, enjoyed a long and lucrative distribution monopoly of Casio watches, earning him the moniker Casio King.

Tan claimed trial. He faces up to 10 years in jail, possible whipping and a fine if found guilty, according to his charge sheet. Spanco reportedly signed a 4.5 billion ringgit deal in 2020 to manage the federal government’s fleet of vehicles over a 15-year period.

Previously, the firm ran a 25-year multibillion ringgit concession starting in 1993 – at the height of Mahathir’s first term as prime minister – to supply and manage the federal government’s vehicle fleet.

Tan had in the early 1970s secured sole distribution rights to Casio products, building an empire over the decades that eventually led to the listing of his main firm, Marco Holdings, on the Malaysian exchange’s main board.

“We did ask, ‘What is the investigation on my father about?’ They were not able to furnish us with that information,” Mokhzani Mahathir, 63, said in a Bloomberg report. “Can you imagine you’re being asked to provide information to be used to prosecute your parent?”

The MACC in January ordered Mokhzani and his