KUANTAN: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has yet to confirm a report that the Mt Orkim Harmony hijackers had ‘a large amount of Malaysian currency and mobile phones’ when arrested near Tho Chu island, Vietnam on June 19.
“The information has not been confirmed, we are still in communication with the Vietnamese authorities.
“I also cannot confirm whether the money was proceeds from the sale of fuel from the tanker or not,” said MMEA senior principal assistant director, Capt Robert Teh Geok Chuan.
He said this when met at the launch of ‘Ops Pemeriksaan Rambang’ aboard MT Orkim Harmony here.
He however confirmed that the tanker’s 6,000 tonnes of RON95 petrol worth RM21 million was intact and that all its 22 crew had returned home.
The Vietnamese media reported that ‘a large sum of Malaysian currency’ was found on the eight pirates who hijacked the tanker on June 11.
VNExpress Sunday reported that the eight suspects “could not explain the origin of the large amount of foreign currency and mobile phones found on them.”
Meanwhile, Teh said the launch of ‘Ops Pemeriksaan Rambang’ meant stepping up air patrol on merchant ships using Malaysian waters.
The operation includes ‘fast roping’ from MMEA helicopters by the Special Task and Rescue (Star) team to combat piracy early and effectively.
The Star team is specially trained by the Malaysian Special Operations Force (MSOF), the United States Coast Guard and the Japan Coast Guard.
It was set up in October 2005 for special operations such as hijacking of vessels and other high risk cases.
Star has performed over 15 ‘forced boarding’ via ‘fast roping’ from helicopters onto vessels including special operations such as ‘Ops Jerung Emas’, ‘Ops Khas Satria Selatan’ and ‘Ops Lanun’.
The MMEA had arrested and charged 40 pirates involved in robbery at sea and inspected 203,556 vessels and boats from 2006 to 2015.
The maritime agency also arrested some 8,597 people. - Bernama