Wednesday March 30, 2011
MACC-led task force cripples syndicate siphoning billions of ringgit
By LOURDES CHARLES and ZUHRIN AZAM AHMAD
PUTRAJAYA: Billions of ringgit have been siphoned by way of tax evasion, money laundering and illegal outflow of funds here by a syndicate with tentacles in many organisations.
The syndicate was finally crippled by a high-powered task force, the biggest ever assembled in the country's history and was led by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Two senior Customs Department officers - a Datuk and his wife, both based in an east coast state - were detained to help in investigations.
MACC officers seized stashes of cash amounting to hundreds of thousands of ringgit from their home.
Officers of the task force, which also included representatives from Bank Negara, the Inland Revenue Board and the Attorney-General's Chambers, conducted simultaneous raids over the last 48 hours on forwarding companies and holding companies. Over 100 premises nationwide were raided.
MACC investigation director Datuk Mustafar Ali (pic) said the two Customs officers were detained to assist in the investigations for offences under the Customs Act, the Income Tax Act, the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Act and the MACC Act.
“Some 150 bank accounts have been frozen, including several overseas accounts that we believe are related to their illegal activities.
“Our task force raided 84 forwarding agents, 25 Customs premises and a holding company and its 24 subsidiaries,” he told reporters here yesterday.
Mustafar said the operation was one of the biggest joint efforts by law enforcement agencies in the country's history.
He added that the raids were conducted because there was reason to believe that the organisations were involved in under-declaration of Customs duties, tax evasion, money laundering, illegal remittance of billions of fund overseas and corruption.
He described the entities as a syndicate which was inter-linked.
“They are linked to agencies, to departments, to individuals and to other parties such as the forwarding agents.
“When goods are imported, the value is under-declared, resulting in lower duties.
“So, there is complicity between the importer and the authorities, resulting in the Government losing billions of ringgit,” he said.
Mustafar also revealed that the raid on the office of Selangor DAP exco member Ang Leng Kiat in Port Klang on Monday was part of the operation.