Sunday, 3 April 2011

Corrupted Customs racket busted: gold bars, cash seized from dirty Customs officers!


Customs racket busted 
 New Straits Times


PUTRAJAYA - A nationwide swoop on Customs officers has resulted in 62 staff being arrested so far, with 17 of them to be remanded soon.

Of the total, 48were from Port Klang, one of five Customs premises raided over theweek by a high-powered task force led by the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission. The other premises were in Kuantan, Penang and the Tanjung Pelepas and Pasir Gudang ports in Johor.

Those arrested were rank and file and senior officers, among them nine female staff.
The arrests were disclosed by MACC investigation division director Datuk Mustafar Ali here yesterday. He said some of the officers had been released on bail.

The task force, which on Monday had crippled a network involving Customs officers that had been siphoning billions of ringgit of the country's revenue, is investigating the smuggling of some RM10 billion(S$4.2bil) overseas.

The MACC said the amount was based on investigations and from questioning the 62 officers who had been arrested.

Following the arrest in the east coast of a state Customs director and his wife for their alleged involvement in the network earlier this week, Mustafar said 17 officers would be remanded soon under the ongoing Ops 3b.

The 17 are believed to be part of the network, which is alleged to have been asking and receiving gratification from forwarding agents, to reduce duties and to expedite processes involved in bringing in imports.

Mustafar said during the surveillance and probes into the officers' involvement, MACC had noted highflying lifestyles of not only some of the senior officers but also among the rank and file.
He said long before Ops 3b, which began on March 28, Customs officers at the ports, including junior officers, were seen driving posh cars.

Investigations revealed that many of them had hundreds of thousands of ringgit in their bank accounts.
Checks also revealed that one officer had RM10,000 credited into his account seven times.

At the home of an officer, the task force found at least RM12,000, while others had invested RM200,000 in Amanah Saham Bumiputera. Among other items believed to be illicitly obtained were a luxury gold watch and two fake guns with 241 bullets, as well as flashy cars.

Mustafar said the officers also revealed that they were receiving between RM100 and RM500 for each Customs declaration form in which the importer had under-declared the value of the items brought in.

It was also disclosed that in one raid on Friday, a Customs officer was found with three bags of cash, totalling about RM625,000, and five gold bars worth RM50,000.

"One of these officers had half-amillion ringgit in his account and another had RM850,000.

"We are going all out to plug the gaps for these dirty hands, which results in billions of ringgit in losses to the country," he said, adding that investigations would also determine the source of the money and items that were in their possession.

On the case of the state director, Mustafar said initial findings revealed that the director had several accounts and one of it had RM2.1 million.

He added that the remand of the director had been extended but his wife had been released.

-New Straits Times


Gold bars and bags of cash among items seized from dirty Customs officers

By LESTER KONG and LOURDES CHARLES newsdesk@thestar.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: Gold bars and bags of cash containing up to RM600,000 have been discovered in the homes of several Customs officers during raids by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Other ill-gotten stash included luxury watches and posh cars.

The MACC seized millions of ringgit from at least five of the 62 Customs officers arrested to date in a series of raids over under-declaration of duties and tax evasion.

MACC investigation director Datuk Mustafar Ali said a Customs director arrested last Tuesday had millions of ringgit spread over several bank accounts.

Another officer had almost RM1mil in his bank acount. Two others had between RM500,000 and RM850,000, he told a press conference yesterday.

It is learnt that investigations by a task force estimated that about RM10bil had been smuggled out or remitted overseas.

Last week, the MACC revealed that the raids were carried out as part of investigations into organisations believed to be involved in under-declaration of duties, tax evasion and money laundering.

Yesterday, Mustafar said that several officers had admitted to collecting “fees” ranging from RM100 to RM500 for every Customs declaration K1 form submitted and approved. (K1 forms are meant for imported goods.)

Up to RM10,000 is believed to have been collected for the K1 forms, which contained details of shipments and their dutiable value.

Such crimes, he said, accounted for RM108bil annually in unpaid duties and income tax.
On the MACC raids, Mustafar said: “Our officers found gold bars in the home of one officer.
“Another one had more than RM600,000 in several bags in his house.

“A senior officer had two imitation pistols with more than 200 bullets, besides fireworks and cigarettes,” he said, adding that the raiding team also seized high-end watches and posh cars from the officers concerned.

It is learnt that nine of the 62 arrested to assist in investigations are women. Those caught are aged between 24 and 56.

Mustafar said investigations were still ongoing and that more people would be picked up. He hinted that at least 100 forwarding agents were also being investigated for bribery.

To a question, he said the Customs unit based in Port Klang was the most corrupt with 48 officers arrested.