PUTRAJAYA: Criminals are increasingly using financial technology (fintech) platforms and cash instead of bank transactions to avoid detection, says the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki (pic) said this was the preferred way of doing business among criminals today.
"The syndicates keep cash in their operating centre. It is believed that they had transacted billions of ringgit over the past five years by using fintech platforms to conduct transactions," he said when opening the Kenanga 4th Fraud Awareness Week here on Monday (Nov 16).
The MACC recently busted an online gambling and Macau scam syndicate and arrested dozens of suspects, including a few police officers.
Hundreds of accounts with monies reaching several hundred millions of ringgit were frozen and a sizeable number of luxury cars were also seized.
Azam noted that criminals are finding creative methods to bypass financial institutions' customer diligence measures and are exploiting financial instruments to conduct illegal activities through trade finance facilities, insurance and wire transfers, among others.
The fraudulent acts are concealed through various layers of records and documentation, and the conversion of ill-gotten proceeds done through new mediums such as virtual assets, underground traders, cross-border financial institutions and offshore financial services, he explained.
Azam said another example was a 1MDB-related case where investigations found that an investment company in Hong Kong was used as a vehicle to hold funds amounting to RM600mil in 2011.
"Some years later, the same funds were transferred back into the country, layered using multiple accounts held by different companies with different banks," he said.
Azam said financial institutions' role as "frontliners" in the fight against fraudsters is paramount because financial fraud, kickbacks and money laundering are often reflected in financial institutions.
Transactions, especially those involving high-risk customers, should be scrutinised in terms of the sources of the funds and where the money goes, he added.
"As for the MACC, we have our own approach in detecting and investigating corruption but we need close cooperation with regulators, financial institutions and other enforcement agencies, especially in sharing of information and reporting suspicious financial activities," he said.
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