KUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Aman’s Anti-Money Laundering division has investigated 301 cases since 2019 with assets more than RM1.2bil worth seized and close to half a billion ringgit frozen in the last two years.
About RM85mil worth of these assets have since been forfeited with some returned to the victims.
The assets involved included funds in bank accounts, vehicles and real estate.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Zainuddin Yaacob (pic) said the division’s 107 personnel regularly assisted the CID and Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID) in opening up investigating papers (IPs) specifically on money laundering.
“The division investigated 301 cases since 2019 with 296 IPs on money laundering by the three departments within the force.
“This year, the division is focused on large-scale cases, including calling centres, online gambling and organised crimes, ” Comm Zainuddin said.
The division, which was formed on Dec 12,2004, played a crucial role in various investigations, he said.
“Our personnel are tasked with conducting investigations on money laundering and terrorism financing in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which was enforced on Jan 15,2002.
“They are also tasked with conducting the freezing, seizure and forfeiture of assets during investigations under the Act, of which the assets were acquired via illegal means, ” he said.
“Gathering credible financial intelligence as well as analysing and tracing assets are a must as well as conducting compliance programmes on curbing money laundering.
“The freezing of assets can be done under Section 44 of the Act to prevent criminals from using such assets, whereby an investigator suspects that the assets were acquired through illegal means, ” he added.
He said the division froze assets worth RM274.9mil last year and almost RM219mil up till last month.
“The assets will be frozen for 90 days from the date the freeze order is issued, ” he said.
The next step in the course of the division’s investigation was the seizure of assets under Section 45,50 and 51 of the Act, he said.
“The act of seizure is depending on the Deputy Public Prosecutor and senior investigators, based on the type of assets.
“The seizure would be in effect for 12 months from the date the order to seize is issued, ” he said.
In 2019, the division seized RM1.2bil worth of assets in connection with illegal money laundering investigations.
“Among the seized items were RM442.5mil of funds in bank accounts, RM8.3mil worth of vehicles, RM77mil in real estate and RM117mil in cash.
“As of November this year, the seizures conducted by the division amounted to RM126mil, ” Comm Zainuddin said.
After the investigation is concluded, the next steps that can be taken are prosecution, forfeiture of assets or releasing the assets to a third party (which is usually the victims).
“All the steps will go through court proceedings.
“As of November 2020, some RM25.5mil worth of assets have been forfeited. Last year, it was RM59.4mil, ” he said.
Since 2019, RM18.3mil worth of assets have been handed over to third parties, including victims.
“Among the assets handed over were 20 vehicles, of which three went to the CCID, three to the Johor police contingent and one to Kuala Lumpur police, ” he said.
Comm Zainuddin said money laundering gave a bad image to the country.
“Such crimes give criminals the financial muscle to improve their standings in society resulting in many criminal-based ventures in the domestic market.
“It will then diminish the credibility of a country in the eyes of foreign investors, ” he said.
Comm Zainuddin advised the public not to be involved or assist in any money laundering activity.
“Stern action will be taken against those embroiled in money laundering under the Act, ” he said.
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