PUTRAJAYA: A 47-year-old Datuk is believed to be the ringleader of a cartel and the “force” behind 150 companies that have been grabbing the bulk of government contracts worth billions of ringgit.
Their activities came to an abrupt halt following an operation which crippled a syndicate that has been operating for the past six years.
The “project cartel” is believed to have been awarded 345 tenders with an estimated value of RM3.6bil from different ministries and agencies nationwide since 2014.
Sources with knowledge of the case said with help of insiders in ministries and agencies, the cartel’s companies had had an advantage in securing government contracts and tenders.
According to these sources, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had been working on the case for almost a year to determine the scope of the syndicate’s activities before closing in on them in a special operation on Sunday night.
Following surveillance, the main suspect and six others were arrested at two separate locations in Ampang and Cyberjaya where they were caught red-handed by investigators – they were in the process of filling up tender application forms.
The seven suspects were brought before Magistrate Shah Wira Abdul Halim yesterday, who remanded them for six days until April 10.
It is learnt that the syndicate leader controls more than 150 companies that were used to submit bids for tenders.
He employed other individuals as company directors to hide the fact that he is actually the owner of these corporations.
The syndicate’s focus was on tenders involving facility maintenance as well as development projects.
“MACC investigators believe the syndicate has the cooperation of insiders who are handsomely paid to ensure these companies are allowed to enter the tender process and also to ensure their bids were successful.
“With the help of these insiders, the cartel was provided with information on specifications of the jobs that needed to be done, ceiling prices set by those awarding the tenders, the number of companies participating and eligibility.
“The syndicate was even given tip-offs on the right time to submit their applications, ” said a source.
It is also learnt that the syndicate would “control” a tender process by using different companies under its mastermind to bid for projects.
MACC officers found the names of hundreds of individuals were used to open companies under the syndicate leader’s control.
It is learnt that information provided to open the companies was false.
It is also believed that financial statements submitted to ministries and agencies for these companies to be eligible to participate in the tender process were also false.
MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki confirmed the arrests, saying that the individuals were being investigated under Sections 17 and 18 of the MACC Act.
He also did not rule out the possibility of more arrests to be made in connection with the syndicate’s activities.