Local enforcement possibly bribed by international scam syndicate, says MACC chief

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 23 Feb 2023

PUTRAJAYA: Local enforcement officers might have been bribed in order to turn a blind eye to the international scam syndicate busted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Immigration Department recently, says Tan Sri Azam Baki (pic).

"I cannot reveal much now, but we are confident that certain authorities were protecting them. In what way were they protected we do not know yet but we are investigating further," said the MACC chief commissioner.

ALSO READ: Syndicate gains millions from fake portfolios

Azam said at a press conference at the MACC headquarters here on Thursday (Feb 23) that his personnel found several names among documents kept by the syndicate during a series of raids on Tuesday (Feb 21).

"We do not rule out the possibility that certain local enforcement personnel were offering the syndicate protection,” said Azam.

When asked why the police were not involved in the joint operation, Azam said they made the decision as the case involved offences committed under the MACC Act and Immigration Act.

ALSO READ: Scam syndicate bust: Five Brits and three Malaysians among those nabbed

"The Immigration Department was the right authority as the offenders were mostly foreigners while the Department also had its Special Tactical Force (Pastak) to help with the raids," he said.

It was reported that tens of millions of dollars were lost after an international syndicate with bases in the country successfully scammed overseas victims with fake investment portfolios in the past few years.

A joint operation by the MACC – together with the Immigration Department, Inland Revenue Board and Cyber Security Malaysia – led to the arrest of 81 suspects including British and Philippine nationals.

ALSO READ: Foreigner tries to escape authorities in high-rise drama

Dubbed Op Tropicana, the simultaneous raids were conducted at 24 locations in Kuala Lumpur and Penang on Tuesday.

Azam said the main mastermind of the syndicate has been identified as a man from the United Kingdom in his late 40's.

"The man has a record for scam activities according to information received from the National Crime Agency and is wanted in the United Kingdom.

"This operation was conducted following intelligence gathered from law enforcement agencies in Australia and the United Kingdom," he said.

ALSO READ: MACC leads joint operation to bust scam syndicate that raked in millions

Azam added that these scammers had been operating in Malaysia since 2019 and said that the MACC also received statements from a number of victims who are mostly from Australia.

"Our investigations revealed the syndicate targetted victims from either Australia or the United Kingdom. They are believed to have raked in at least RM200mil from their activities since they started four years ago," he said.

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