JOHOR BARU: The investigation that eventually led to the unravelling of alleged Macau scam ringleader Datuk Seri Nicky Liow Soon Hee, who is now on the wanted list, started with a probe into a handphone deal.
Johor police investigations into the syndicate started earlier this year following a report lodged in Pontian about the bogus sale of a handphone that was worth RM1,500.
A source said the RM1,500 cash paid in the deal went into a “mule account” controlled by the syndicate, triggering a full-blown investigation that eventually led police to Liow’s main centre in Puchong, Selangor.
It is believed that Liow was also known to pay “top money” for information about whether his operations came up on any enforcement agency’s investigations radar including the police, Bank Negara or the Inland Revenue Board for money laundering or tax evasion.
A former deputy public prosecutor is known to be the “fixer” who acquired the information from various agencies, as Liow wanted to operate without sounding off any alarm bells among these agencies.
In Kuala Lumpur, police have put Liow on the wanted list with the Immigration Department, which would be on high alert if he attempts to flee the country.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said once a name was on the wanted list, all border checkpoints, jetties, ports and airports would be automatically notified.
The police are still looking for Liow after they arrested 68 people linked to him, including two Datuk Seri and six Datuks, following an eight-day operation that started on March 20.
Liow was last seen on March 20 at Setiawalk in Puchong, where the syndicate reportedly ran its operations from 48 apartment units there.
Abdul Hamid said on Tuesday that Liow, who had been linked to Macau scam syndicate operations in Malaysia, was believed to have at least 34 law enforcement agency personnel on his payroll, including the former deputy public prosecutor who acted as a fixer for the syndicate.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay was quoted as saying they received information that Liow had packed eight bags with cash and fled.
Liow allegedly got his first break to head a major Macau scam syndicate when the gang’s founder, known as Zhang Jiang or Yun Sho Mao, was nabbed and extradited to China four years ago.
While Zhang, a China citizen, is still believed to be languishing in a prison in that country, Liow had been regularly sending money to support the family of his “sifu”.
Since Zhang had connections to various triads abroad, Liow managed to gain access to them once Zhang was in prison.
It is learnt that in the last few years, Liow had managed to amass a fortune of more than RM100mil.
Sources said all his activities were mainly in the Klang Valley, where he is known to be a man about town.
Liow was arrested for assaulting two Rela members on duty at the Kou Ong Yah temple in Kuala Lumpur four years ago, though he was later acquitted and discharged.
Those with information on Liow should contact Asst Supt Prakash Valiappan at 012-520 9767 or go to the nearest police station.