KUALA LUMPUR: Syndicates smuggling and selling subsidised diesel, which led to a loss of RM1.2bil for the country over the past five years, will face the full might of the law.
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Hassan Malek said the racketeers were big entities involving many people working in petrol stations and ports, as well as fuel transportation companies and even businesses licensed by the ministry.
“When they are caught, the punishment will be severe. We will not stop at just taking back the fuel. We will shut down their companies and freeze their accounts.
“I view this issue very seriously as their actions are spoiling the economy. Most importantly, consumers are being tricked as the subsidies are meant for them,” he said.
Hassan said these racketeers siphoned subsidised diesel at petrol stations and resold them to industries in countries that did not offer subsidies.
The ministry has identified “high-risk” petrol stations where most of the smuggling activities are suspected to have taken place and are monitoring them closely.
The ministry will use the Anti-Money Laundering Act to deter those involved in the smuggling activities, while reviewing the Control of Supplies Act to impose heavier penalties on syndicate members.
The Government reportedly spent RM9.92bil in diesel subsidies last year. In 2010, it spent RM4.03bil to subsidise diesel.
Meanwhile, in Kuantan, a syndicate’s attempt to smuggle subsidised diesel out of the country has been thwarted in what is the largest seizure to date.
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement director Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said a Singapore-registered oil tanker was stopped from smuggling 1.3 million litres of diesel during a midnight raid at the Kuantan Port on Friday.
“Up to 42,000 litres of diesel was also seized from a lorry. This is the largest seizure of subsidised diesel in history as it is worth a total of RM8.4mil,” he said.
He said 11 Myanmar nationals and an Indonesian, who are crew members of the vessel, had been detained.