MACC slams companies siphoning Covid-19 relief funds

PUTRAJAYA: Far too many companies that were supposed to channel aid to those who needed it during the Covid-19 pandemic had instead chosen to profit from government programmes, said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Its deputy commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Ahmad Khusairi Yahya (pic) described these companies as “economic opportunists” who subscribed to the “culture of greed”.

He said “the value of integrity” among them had faded, while calling on the government to stop the leakages.

Ahmad Khusairi pointed out the government had introduced grants, loans, a moratorium, skills training and special financial assistance to ease the burden of those who lost jobs or faced business setbacks.

“But what has happened? There was a large group of individuals, companies and organisations that took the opportunity to profit from the rights and sufferings of the affected people.

“These people blatantly took advantage of the funds offered by the government by making false claims for personal wealth.

“This is the attitude of economic opportunists on a small and medium scale. The value of integrity has faded and greed has become a culture,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Ahmad Khusairi said as a result, those who needed government assistance and those who should have received the benefits and assistance were marginalised.

“This is one form of leakage that the government must rectify. There is no use for any fancy policies when the implementation is a failure.

“There are just too many loopholes that can create room and opportunity for abuse to happen,” he added.

Ahmad Khusairi said the MACC viewed the misappropriation and leakages as serious issues, adding that a special operation carried out throughout last year along with other agencies saw 133 company owners and directors arrested.

More than 100 companies had been investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds totalling RM194mil.

To date, a total of 34 company owners and directors have been charged with submitting false claims.

Ahmad Khusairi said the MACC had identified several loopholes, including weaknesses in the review process to authenticate information submitted by applicants.

This, he said, had resulted in several companies owned by the same person making multiple claims.

“The issue of emergency (during the pandemic) was used as an excuse to not perform due diligence on the applicants.

“There was also an absence of clear mechanisms to monitor the programmes that were supposed to be carried out, and the agency concerned only depended on the programme or activity report submitted by the applicant.

“There were also no clear rules and laws to act against applicants, such as blacklisting them, instituting civil suits or reclaiming unspent funds,” he noted.

Ahmad Khusairi said the agencies to which these funds were channelled should be constantly monitored, and their key performance indicators should be measured on the impact and outcome of the activities or programmes.

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