THE MALAYSIAN Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) has refuted allegations of wrongdoing with regards to its investment into Uber Technologies Inc., which has recently come under investigation possible bribery violations.
In a Bloomberg exclusive MaGIC was reported to have received funds from Uber, a claim which the organisation vehemently denies. A spokesperson for the organisation said that the company had received no such funding from Uber.
In a statement received by Tech Wire Asia, MaGIC said the organisation had regular collaborations with corporates and offers “offering strategic platforms and initiatives to connect them with Malaysia’s leading entrepreneurial talent”.
MaGIC is a government-run program for entrepreneurs and startups.
“We strongly refute our involvement in any quid-pro-quo arrangements … as part of our efforts to help build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, these partnerships help inspire young entrepreneurs at the ideation stage, bridging a gap in our ecosystem.”
Uber has become the subject of a US federal probe, after it was suggested that the company’s operations had engaged in potential bribery with officials in its Asia operations.
The Malaysian government has close ties with Uber, which have been fraught with speculations of corruption and back-room dealing. The Malaysian government has invested heavily in the company through several government funds as well as passing legislation that favored ride-hailing companies, to the detriment to traditional taxi drivers.
The government’s Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) passed legislation in July that formally recognised ride-hailing drivers as official forms of transport.
Furthermore, the country’s Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) – Malaysia’s public-sector pension fund – invested a huge sum of RM124.2 million (US$30 million) in the ride-hailing company. Khazanah, a private government-backed sovereign fund, was revealed to have been investing in Uber since 2015.
The news was particularly shocking with regards to the KWAP, as the fund is not known for investing in risky tech ventures. Much like the private Employer’s Provident Fund (KWSP), KWAP is known for taking safe bets with steady interest rates. However, officials said that the fund was looking at riskier but more lucrative funds to invest in.
“Technology is one of the sectors that we would like to explore,” said KWAP chief executive officer Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad to reporters back in 2016.
Last year, Prime Minister Najib Razak came under fire when he made comments suggesting that poor Malaysians in the bottom 40 percent income bracket of the country should “generate additional income” by becoming “ride-sharing drivers, such as Uber drivers”.
**This story originally appeared on our sister website Tech Wire Asia.