Immigration hack case: Over RM25mil seized and 147 accounts frozen in joint operation against syndicate

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of RM25.5mil worth of properties, luxury cars and watches including cash was seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) following arrests of five suspects involved a syndicate which hacked into the Immigration Department's computer systems to issue fake temporary work permits (PLKS).

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki said that the joint operations with the Immigration Department on Tuesday (April 6) also saw a total of 147 accounts belonging to 30 individuals totalling RM9.9mil being frozen, pending ongoing investigations.

"Five individuals aged from 33 to 43 were detained in Kuala Lumpur and Sungai Petani during the joint operation.

"Among them was a 'Datuk' arrested in Kuala Lumpur who is believed to be the mastermind behind the syndicate," he told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday (April 7).

He added that one of the suspects was a former Immigration officer.

He said the suspects have been remanded for six days from the date of their arrest on Tuesday (April 6).

Among the items seized, he said, were a terrace house, two semi-detached homes, 66 vehicles which included 12 luxury cars, 34 luxury watches and an array of equipment used to hack the Immigration Department's computer system to produce the PLKS stickers for foreign workers permits.

Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said that investigations were ongoing as it is believed that the syndicate had help from within the Department.

"No Immigration officer was detained in the operations... I am not discounting arrests," he said, adding several electronic devices were found in the Department's lobby and near computers of officers.

He said that the syndicate is believed to have raked in RM4.7mil in 2018 to produce forged PLKS permits for foreign workers in the agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors.

"A total of 21,378 forged PLKS permits are believed to have been issued by the syndicate.

"We will be tracking down these foreign workers who will be detained and deported," he said, adding that action would also be taken against their employers.

The syndicate, believed to have been operating since 2017, is said to have installed transmitters in the computer system room with the help of "insiders".

The devices allowed racketeers to hack into the system to make changes and use passwords belonging to senior officers.

The findings of the 2018 Auditor-General's report led authorities to the discovery.

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