Contraband smuggling syndicate: MACC arrests 15 civil servants suspected of receiving over RM2m in bribes

PUTRAJAYA, March 19 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested 15 more civil servants suspected of receiving over RM2 million in bribes from a syndicate involved in the illegal smuggling of tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol through the country’s entry points.

The arrests were made by MACC’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Division through Op Samba 2.0, conducted in collaboration with the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) since Monday last week (March 11).

According to sources, the men, aged between their 30s and 50s, were detained at around 2 pm at the MACC Headquarters here today while recording their statements.

“Initial investigations found that all of them are suspected to have been involved in these activities from 2017 to 2023.

“They are believed to have received more than RM2 million in bribes from the syndicate to facilitate the smuggling of chewing tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol and several other items,” he said.

The MACC’s AML Division has also seized items such as mobile phones and frozen the bank accounts of all the individuals involved.

Previously, the AML Division had arrested 11 individuals including five civil servants who were later remanded to assist in the investigation.

It is understood that the modus operandi of the syndicate includes using forwarding agents as intermediaries for payments to enforcement officers to ‘smoothen’ the process of smuggling alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, and other items without going through the declaration and inspection procedures.

The syndicate is also believed to be using mule accounts to conduct bribe payments to colluding civil servants.

Additionally, the syndicate is implicated in money laundering activities by laundering money using ghost company business accounts, through money changers, and licensed money lending companies.

Meanwhile, AML Division director Dato’ Mohamad Zamri Zainul Abidin, when contacted, confirmed the arrests of the 15 suspects and said the case was being investigated under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009.

He said a remand order would be sought against all the individuals at the Putrajaya Magistrate’s Court tomorrow. — Bernama




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