SEPANG: A total of 373 Chinese nationals have been charged in court for entering the country without a valid permit.
They were part of the group of 680 suspected scammers who were rounded up during a large-scale operation by the Immigration Department in Cyberjaya on Nov 20.
Separated into batches of 10, the Chinese nationals were brought to the Sepang Court Complex at 7.30am and produced before Sessions judge Tengku Shahrizan Tengku Lah at 8am.
Aged between 23 and 38, the group of 355 men and 28 women were charged under Section 6(1)(C) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 and liable under Section 6(3) of the Act.
The Act provides for a fine not exceeding RM10,000, a jail term of up to five years or both with whipping of not more than six strokes.
They were found without a valid travel pass on Nov 20 at about 3.30pm at the premises of Malaysian House of Internet Sdn Bhd at Wisma Mustapha Kamal at Jalan Usahawan in Cyberjaya.
Four interpreters from the Immigration Department were appointed to read out the charges to the accused, out of which only some were represented.
Out of the 373 who were accused, 52 will have their cases re-mentioned on Jan 10 pending passport checks and submission.
The remaining 321 pleaded guilty, with 290 sentenced to four months in jail from the date of arrest.
Thirty-one of them were fined RM5,000 in default of four months’ jail.
The prosecution was led by Immigration Department prosecution unit head Kasthuri Bai Venugopal with Suhaimi Abdullah, Nazwan Hassan, Asrizal Azman, Rueben Raj, Fadzil Shahabudin and Nur Ayunis Shairah.
Kasthuri asked for a deterrent sentence considering their ignorance of the rule of law in Malaysia despite frequent operations by the department to weed out illegal immigrants.
Another 153 of those arrested during the operation will be charged at the same court on Monday.
The group was operating from a six-storey building in Cyberjaya when the Nov 20 raid took place.
It was the result of a month’s surveillance following complaints from the public.
The office was well secured, with guards stationed at each floor and rooms only being accessible with access cards.
It is learned that the group has been operating in Malaysia for around six months and that the building was being used as a call centre.
Investigations showed that the group targeted victims in China by offering fast, profitable returns in their investment scams.
They were found to have entered the country via social visit passes. Nearly all could not produce their passports after being arrested.