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Malaysian graftbuster tracking ministry staff and companies over S$32.2 million theft

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is probing a massive corruption scandal involving senior officials in a ministry who are working in cahoots with companies to line their own pockets.

Malaysian graftbuster tracking ministry staff and companies over S$32.2 million theft

The logo of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Photo: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is probing a massive corruption scandal involving senior officials in a ministry who are working in cahoots with companies to line their own pockets.

The New Straits Times, citing sources, reported that the scope, breadth and enormity of this case would put other major corruption scandals to shame.

“We are talking about massive amounts of leakages of government funds,” a source said.

Five officials, working with at least 10 companies, are said to have easily pocketed RM100 million (S$32.2 million), said the report.

The money pocketed was siphoned off from tens of projects and initiatives that were supposed to be implemented to help the poor, including those that cost the government between RM500 million and RM1 billion.

The investigation is believed to be part of a broader anti-corruption campaign waged by the MACC in the lead up to the next general election.

In siphoning off massive allocations meant to improve public welfare and local infrastructure, this group of senior officials at a ministry had allegedly worked hand in glove with the companies to declare on paper that the projects they were supposed to undertake had been completed, when in fact nothing had been done.

A source close to the ongoing probe said the group has been siphoning funds from numerous projects that never materialised over a few years.

“Then, there are projects which were not carried out according to specifications. Cutbacks were done indiscriminately,” said the source.

“This case is not just about stealing from funds that were supposed to go to infrastructure development. Even the food programme for poor students was not spared.”

MACC is said to have been watching the suspects for more than a year, but had been hampered by their slick operations in which they left hardly any paper trail and covered each other’s backs.

But the culprits were said to have been exposed via a central bank suspicious transaction alert system, which was triggered by movements of significant amounts of monies in accounts traced to them.

The graftbusters are believed to be probing the case under the Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.

Prime Minister Najib Razak must call a general election by mid-2018, although some commentators have suggested he could do so this year.

The MACC has arrested dozens of top officials under a sweeping anti-graft campaign, including officers at national oil company Petronas and the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda). More than 600 arrests were made just this year, showed MACC data.

In a high profile move, MACC secured a court order in August to detain former Felda chairman Isa Samad for an investigation into alleged abuse at an investment unit of the agency. Mr Isa, a former federal minister, is being investigated over the purchase of hotels in London and Kuching by Felda Investment Corporation (FIC). THE NEW STRAITS TIMES

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