Penang undersea tunnel project scrutinized by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC)


In troubled waters: An artist’s impression showing where the tunnel project will start on the island.

 

 

Land swap under MACC scrutiny

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) probe into the controversial Penang undersea tunnel is focused on land swaps that were made for the feasibility and detailed design study which has yet to be completed.

Sources said investigators are scouring documents involving two plots of land – Lot 702 and Lot 713 in Bandar Tanjung Pinang – with a size of 1.48ha and 2.31ha respectively.

The value of Lot 702 is around RM135mil while Lot 713 is around RM160mil.

It is learnt that both parcels of land have since been mortgaged to banks to obtain financing. The state government has also authorised planning permission on both parcels of lands.

“The state government paid the consultant for the feasibility studies by means of two land swaps. The cost for the feasibility study is around RM305mil.

“It has become an issue on why the study cost was inflated so much when it should have been an estimated RM60mil,” sources said, adding that determining the inflation and the reason behind it were among the challenges faced by the investigating team.

The sources also said that the graft-busters have their sights targeted on “somebody” who has been enjoying kickbacks and entertainment from the deal.

The feasibility and detailed design study is for the 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Perai.

It is part of the RM6.3bil mega project comprising a 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road (NCPR) from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, the 5.7km Air Itam–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

Yesterday, the investigating team also questioned four officers from several state government agencies on the land swaps.

Sources added that the anti-graft agency also raided a property agency office in Penang and carted various documents away. It is learnt the chief executive officer of the company was not around during the raid.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki said his investigating team has yet to call in any witnesses for the case as they are still conducting a thorough study on the seized documents.

He added that the officers would still be obtaining more documents from the companies involved and also from the state government.

 

Two bosses of construction firms held for six days as MACC investigates project

Datuks’ remanded in tunnel probe

Taken away: Officers escorting one of the men out of the courthouse in Putrajaya.

MACC digs deeper

A swap involving two parcels of land worth close to RM300mil is in the spotlight as the MACC intensifies investigations into claims of corruption in Penang’s undersea tunnel project and several accompanying highway projects. Two ‘Datuks’ have been remanded and several key officials in companies and agencies involved in the project have been questioned. But Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says the project will go on.

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says the undersea tunnel project, now the subject of a corruption investigation, will proceed unless there is a court order to stop it.

He said he was baffled by yet another investigation into the project as the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) had been conducting an investigation into the RM6.3bil mega project comprising the tunnel and three other highways since 2016.

“What are they investigating now? Is it because of the looming general election?

“The project was awarded via an open tender overseen by international accounting firm KPMG.

“Still, I have instructed everyone involved to give their full cooperation to the MACC in its investigation as we have nothing to hide,” said Lim at a press conference at Komtar yesterday.

On Tuesday, graft-busters arrested two “Datuks” involved in the controversial Penang undersea tunnel project to help in investigations into claims of corruption.

The duo, who were picked up in Putrajaya and Penang, have since been remanded for six days to facilitate the probe.

The anti-graft agency raided the offices of four state government agencies – the Penang Public Works Department, Penang State Secretary, Penang Office of Lands and Mines and Penang Valuation and Property Services Department – and three property development and construction companies – Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd, 555 Capital Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd’s Penang office.

MACC officers also questioned several officers in charge of the respective agencies and companies. Sources familiar with the investigation said the probe into the undersea tunnel project was also zooming in on land swaps.

Ewein Zenith is a joint-venture vehicle of Ewein Land Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd.

The latter is a Malaysia-China joint venture that was awarded the RM6.3bil mega project to build the 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Prai, a 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road (NCPR) from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, the 5.7km Air Itam–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

Consortium Zenith BUCG changed its name to Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd on Jan 18 last year after the withdrawal of Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG).

In a related development, Vertice Bhd (formerly known as Voir Holdings Bhd) said the current investigation by the MACC will not impact the progress of the undersea tunnel project.

It said the project was an integral component of the Penang Transport Master Plan and that the role of Consortium Zenith Construction as the main contractor would remain.

Consortium Zenith Construction is a 13.2% associate company of Vertice. PUTRAJAYA: Two high-ranking bosses of development and construction companies have been remanded for six days as graft investigators continue their probe of the Penang undersea tunnel project. The two “Datuks” were held here and in Penang before being brought to court.

A 59-year-old businessman was brought to a magistrate’s court here at 9.40am yesterday and remanded for six days until Monday to help with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation.

Magistrate Fatina Amyra Abdul Jalil allowed MACC prosecutors’ remand application although the Datuk’s lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh objected, arguing that there was no need for his client to be held.

“I told the court that my client has been cooperative with the MACC.

“I would also like to point out that my client is innocent and his remand is only to assist the investigation,” he told reporters after the proceedings.

The MACC had initially asked for the Datuk to be held for seven days but the magistrate only allowed six days.

He was arrested at the MACC headquarters at around 8.45pm on Tuesday after being called for his statement to be recorded.

In George Town, another Datuk was brought to court for a remand application at 11.40am.

He was handcuffed and wearing MACC’s orange lock-up T-shirt with black pants when he arrived at the courthouse escorted by MACC officers.

The 49-year-old appeared calm and smiled to reporters but did not say anything before he was led inside.

Deputy registrar Muhammad Azam Md Eusoff granted a six-day remand order and the businessman was escorted out of the courthouse about 30 minutes later.

The case is being investigated under Section 16(a)(B) of the MACC Act 2009 for bribery.

It is also believed that one of the Datuks remanded yesterday tested positive for drugs.

On Tuesday, MACC personnel raided the offices of four state government agencies – the Penang Public Works Department, Penang State Secretary, Penang Office of Lands and Mines and Penang Valuation and Property Services Department – and three property development and construction companies believed to be related to the case.

The project involves a plan to bore a 6.5km tunnel below the seabed to connect north Butterworth and the island.

The tunnel is to connect Bagan Ajam, a mature suburb of about 5km from the Butterworth ferry terminal, to the end of Gurney Drive near the Pangkor Road junction on the island.

Connected to the project are three paired roads to be built on the island as a traffic dispersal system to cope with the traffic that the tunnel would bring to Gurney Drive, which is already densely developed.

The three paired roads are from Teluk Bahang to Tanjung Bungah, from Pangkor Road to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway – part of this stretch will be underground – and from Air Itam to the expressway near the Penang bridge.

To finance the construction, projected to cost RM6.3bil, the state government is giving payment in kind of 44.5ha of state land to the contractor, Consortium Zenith Construction.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told the state assembly in 2014 that the land was valued at RM1,300 per sq ft and the project, ending with the tunnel, is scheduled for completion in 2025.

It was reported last March that RM135mil worth of land had been given to the contractor as payment to fund the feasibility studies and detailed studies.

A public-listed company announced in January 2016 that it had secured an agreement to buy 20.2ha of the land from the contractor over 10 years at RM1,300 per sq ft.

It is believed that the MACC is looking into why the state government allowed the contractor to presell state land despite delays in the project construction.

More to be called up for questioning

GEORGE TOWN: Investigations into allegations of corruption in the proposed Penang Undersea Tunnel project are expected to deepen with more people likely to be called up for questioning.

A source in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said the focus was on the feasibility and detailed design study, which had been paid for but not completed.

“We will call in more people involved in the project to assist in investigations into the study,” the source said.

He declined to comment on whether more arrests would follow after two “Datuks” were remanded for six days yesterday to help in the investigations.

The two were remanded in George Town and Putrajaya for investigations into the corruption allegations.

The MACC source declined to share details on evidence collected that led to the remand of the two Datuks yesterday but confirmed that it was about the delayed feasibility study and detailed designs.

The feasibility, detailed design studies and environmental impact assessment was reported to cost RM305mil with RM220mil already paid. Since 2015, NGOs, government agencies, political parties and state assemblymen had asked about the payment and studies, only to be met with replies they considered unsatisfactory.

Last July, the Works Ministry and Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) repeatedly asserted that Penang significantly overpaid, by four times, design fees involving three roads.

Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan sought the professional opinion of BEM, and it was reported that BEM replied that the detailed design costs were four times higher than the maximum allowed under the gazetted scale of fees based on the total project cost.

Last August, the state government declared that the feasibility studies would be ready by September.

In October, however, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said his ministry “had not seen a single page” of it.

Source: By mazwin nik anis, royce tan, arnold loh, r. sekaran, simon khoo The Staronline

 

MACC to make more arrests – Penang undersea tunnel project

More arrests are likely in the investigations into claims of corruption in Penang’s RM6.3bil project involving an undersea tunnel and three highways after MACC officers raided 12 more places and took statements from a dozen witnesses. They are looking into an agreement on payments to the concessionaires but Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says there was no wrongdoing and that not a single sen has been paid for the undersea tunnel project.

PETALING JAYA: Investigators looking into the allegation of corruption in the Penang undersea tunnel project are said to be thoroughly looking through the papers related to the contract for the feasibility study for the undersea tunnel.

“The agreement looks suspicious and the feasibility study for the mega project does not exceed RM305mil as announced by the state government,” sources said.

“The state government might have made a payment which is way different than the real value of the study,” they said.

On Thursday, The Star reported that the graft-busters were zooming in on the land swaps of two plots of land in Bandar Tanjung Pinang.

The sources also say that the reclaimed land for the land swaps were of high value for development. It is believed that the state JKR has set the value for the study and that allegations of misappropriation were raised when the value that was paid far exceeded the initial value.

To finance the construction of the tunnel and three paired roads on the island, projected to cost RM6.3bil, the state government is giving payment in kind of 44.5ha of state land to the contractor, Consortium Zenith Construction.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had told the state assembly in 2014 that the land was valued at RM1,300 per sq ft and the project, ending with the tunnel, is scheduled for completion in 2025.

It was reported last March that RM135mil worth of land had been given to the contractor as payment to fund the feasibility studies and detailed studies. However, the study has not been completed although the land has been handed over.

A public- listed company announced in January 2016 that it had secured an agreement to buy 20.2ha of the land from the contractor over 10 years at RM1,300 per sq ft.

It is believed that the MACC is looking into why the state government allowed the contractor to presell state land despite delays in the project construction and the study.

Source: The Star Malaysia reports by MAZWIN NIK ANIS and INTAN AMALINA MOHD ALI

Related stories:

MACC probe shifts to bidding process – Nation | The Star Online

MACC looking at how RM305mil was paid – Nation | The Star Online

MACC focussing on Penang tunnel project studies, sources say …

Lim: Not a single sen paid for Penang undersea tunnel project …

No money paid for project, says Lim – Nation

 12 spots raided in tunnel probe 

Guan Eng: Project will go on unless there’s a court order to stop

Vertice, Ewein shares down following Penang arrests – Business News

Ewein MD remanded by MACC – theSundaily

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Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) – Tunnel project rocked, Directors arrested in graft probe


 

 

 

Stalled ambition: A view of the Gurney Drive seafront, which is meant to be connected to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Prai under the Penang undersea tunnel project.
The RM6.3bil undersea tunnel project in Penang is on rocky ground with the MACC going on a day-long swoop on companies and state government agencies involved. A high-ranking Datuk in one of the companies has been detained to help in investigations into allegations of corruption in the long-delayed mega project and feasibility studies.

PETALING JAYA: Graft-busters have arrested a Datuk holding a high post in a company involved in the controversial Penang undersea tunnel project to help investigations into corruption claims.

The arrest came after a day-long massive swoop on several offices in Penang, where the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) seized documents related to the RM6.3bil mega project.

The anti-graft agency raided the offices of four state government agencies – the Penang Public Works Department, Penang State Secretary, Penang Office of Lands and Mines and Penang Valuation and Property Services Department – and three property development and construction companies – Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd, 555 Capital Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd’s Penang office.

MACC officers also questioned several officers in charge of the respective agencies and companies since the raids began yesterday morning.

Sources familiar with the investigation said the probe into the undersea tunnel project was also zooming in on land swaps.

Ewein Zenith is a joint-venture vehicle of Ewein Land Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd.

The latter is a Malaysia-China joint venture that was awarded the RM6.3bil mega project to build the 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Prai, a 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road (NCPR) from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, the 5.7km Air Itam–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive–Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

Consortium Zenith BUCG changed its name to Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd on Jan 18 last year after the withdrawal of Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG).

It is believed that the MACC is looking into why the state government allowed the Penang Tunnel special purpose vehicle (SPV) company to pre-sell state land rights worth RM3bil despite a four-year delay in the construction of roads.

Investigators are also believed to be looking into the RM305mil feasibility and detailed design studies that have yet to be completed, even though a payment of RM220mil was made to the SPV.

On Oct 11 last year, the main contractor of the project announced that there was no urgency to finish the feasibility study for the undersea tunnel, as it was only set to begin in 2023.

The feasibility study of the tunnel started in February 2015 and as of October last year, it was said to be 92.9% complete.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof has said the delay in submitting the feasibility report to him was very unusual considering that the project was awarded in 2013.

On Friday, Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) vice-president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan lodged a report at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya and handed over documents which he claimed contained new evidence of corruption in the project.

It was Huan’s third report about the matter. He first lodged a police report on July 17 last year, claiming that the project was awarded to an “undercapitalised” company.

He then lodged a report with the MACC on July 21, calling for a corruption probe.

In George Town, a source in the MACC confirmed that they had ­visited the offices of Ewein Zenith, Consor­tium Zenith Construction and 555 Capital, all of which are involved in the Penang undersea tunnel project.

“We went in the morning, shortly after their offices opened,” said the MACC officer.

However, none of the senior management staff were in and only the front office and sales staff were present to attend to them.

State Works Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng said he was not aware of the raids, while Consortium Zenith senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, state secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus said the National Economic Planning Unit on the 25th floor of Komtar was also raided, but declined to give details.

Huan thanked the commission for acting on his report.

“I believe the MACC will carry out its investigation professionally without any fear or favour,” he said.

The MACC is expected to hold a press conference today to explain the spate of raids and provide updates on the investigations.

By royce tan, tan sin chow, r. sekaran, cavina lim The Star

High life of the young, carefree and broke Malaysians hit a new low


Younger set not living within their means and are bankrupt before they are 30

 

“When they start their own lives, they are not financially stable. Some want to get married.” – Datuk Abdul Rahman Putra Taha

They are young and carefree to the point of being careles, and have expensive tastes. Branded handbags, holidays to exotic places, fancy cars and lavish weddings all lead them into huge debts. By the age of 30, they are bankrupt. Some as young as 25 are among the shocking 60% of the 94,400 people declared bankrupt in the last four years.

PETALING JAYA: They lived the fast life, a life of Pradas and Guccis. When the cash is out, they max out on their credit cards.

Some even go as far as taking up personal loans to finance overseas trips, buying the latest expensive gadgets and holding lavish weddings.

And before they even turn 30, they are bankrupt.

Malaysia’s youth are seeing a worrying trend with those aged between 25 and 44 forming the biggest group classified as bankrupt.

They constituted almost 60% of the 94,408 cases reported from 2013 to August, according to the Insolvency Department.

Director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Putra Taha said there were multiple factors that contributed to the trend, but singled out that many of them just wanted to “start their own life”.

“When they start their own lives, they are not financially stable. Some want to get married, but if the in-laws ask for hantaran gifts such as cars or a house, they need the money.

“Their pay can be considered low but they need expensive gifts. Where else can they go other than applying for personal loans?” he said in an interview recently.

Abdul Rahman also listed the top four reasons why a borrower was declared a bankrupt.

“Car loans took up 26.63%, personal loans (25.48%), housing loans (16.87%), and business loans (10.24%),” he said.

He revealed that the total number of people declared bankrupt from 2013 stood at 296,712 as of August, with Selangor having the most at 72,114, followed by the Federal Territories (46,377), Johor Baru (41,179) and Penang (22,136).

He urged the public to manage their finances prudently to ensure they would not be burdened by debt.

At the same time, Abdul Rahman said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) was making huge efforts to ensure it would not be so easy for the young to obtain credit cards.

In response, he said the department was committed to ensuring that the Government meets its target, especially with the Voluntary Arrangement under the Insolvency Act 1967.

Almost 58,000 bankrupts have been cleared or had their bankruptcy annulled by the courts in about the last five years, marking the first phase of the Government’s efforts to reduce bankruptcy cases following amendments to several bankruptcy laws.

From 2013 to August 2017, the courts have cleared 1,356 cases while another 11,627 cases have been terminated upon annulment of the bankruptcy order.

A total of 44,950 cases were discharged via Insolvency Certificate from the director-general.

However, the Government is pushing to slash the number of people being declared bankrupt to just about 4,000 to 5,000 cases per year.

“The enforcement of the newly amended bankruptcy law began this year. If they meet our criteria, qualified borrowers will be automatically discharged as bankrupts three years from the date of filing of the Statement of Affairs (Penyata Hal Ehwal),” said Abdul Rahman

Under the amended laws, someone at risk of being declared a bankrupt can settle his debt without bankruptcy proceedings with a voluntary agreement.

“Our intention is to ensure that borrowers will be able to pay back their loans without undue suffering and creditors will get their money back, too.”

He said debtors must adhere to the agreed sum of contribution paid to the creditors and they must also file their pay and expenses slip statement every six months throughout the three-year period.

“As long as they fulfil the payment within the period, we will release their names,” said Abdul Rahman.

Under the new amendments of the Bankruptcy Act 1967, the Government has introduced a rescue mechanism with a single bankruptcy order to replace the receiving order and adjudication order from the courts as practised previously.

“This move ensures that creditors are also protected under the amended laws,” he said.

The Act has also paved the way for the setting up of the Insolvency Assistance Fund and a release from bankruptcy without objection by the creditors for certain groups of people.

These include social guarantors made bankrupt under the Bankruptcy Act 1967, those who have died, those categorised as people with disabilities (OKU) by the Welfare Department and those certified by government medical officers as suffering from chronic or serious diseases.

The Star Malaysia by RAHIMY RAHIM rahimyr@thestar.com.my

Young, carefree and broke Malaysians hit a new low


Younger set not living within their means and are bankrupt before they are 30

 “When they start their own lives, they are not financially stable. Some want to get married.” – Datuk Abdul Rahman Putra Taha

They are young and carefree to the point of being careles, and have expensive tastes. Branded handbags, holidays to exotic places, fancy cars and lavish weddings all lead them into huge debts. By the age of 30, they are bankrupt. Some as young as 25 are among the shocking 60% of the 94,400 people declared bankrupt in the last four years.

PETALING JAYA: They lived the fast life, a life of Pradas and Guccis. When the cash is out, they max out on their credit cards.

Some even go as far as taking up personal loans to finance overseas trips, buying the latest expensive gadgets and holding lavish weddings.

And before they even turn 30, they are bankrupt.

Malaysia’s youth are seeing a worrying trend with those aged between 25 and 44 forming the biggest group classified as bankrupt.

They constituted almost 60% of the 94,408 cases reported from 2013 to August, according to the Insolvency Department.

Director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Putra Taha said there were multiple factors that contributed to the trend, but singled out that many of them just wanted to “start their own life”.

“When they start their own lives, they are not financially stable. Some want to get married, but if the in-laws ask for hantaran gifts such as cars or a house, they need the money.

“Their pay can be considered low but they need expensive gifts. Where else can they go other than applying for personal loans?” he said in an interview recently.

Abdul Rahman also listed the top four reasons why a borrower was declared a bankrupt.

“Car loans took up 26.63%, personal loans (25.48%), housing loans (16.87%), and business loans (10.24%),” he said.

He revealed that the total number of people declared bankrupt from 2013 stood at 296,712 as of August, with Selangor having the most at 72,114, followed by the Federal Territories (46,377), Johor Baru (41,179) and Penang (22,136).

He urged the public to manage their finances prudently to ensure they would not be burdened by debt.

At the same time, Abdul Rahman said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) was making huge efforts to ensure it would not be so easy for the young to obtain credit cards.

In response, he said the department was committed to ensuring that the Government meets its target, especially with the Voluntary Arrangement under the Insolvency Act 1967.

Almost 58,000 bankrupts have been cleared or had their bankruptcy annulled by the courts in about the last five years, marking the first phase of the Government’s efforts to reduce bankruptcy cases following amendments to several bankruptcy laws.

From 2013 to August 2017, the courts have cleared 1,356 cases while another 11,627 cases have been terminated upon annulment of the bankruptcy order.

A total of 44,950 cases were discharged via Insolvency Certificate from the director-general.

However, the Government is pushing to slash the number of people being declared bankrupt to just about 4,000 to 5,000 cases per year.

“The enforcement of the newly amended bankruptcy law began this year. If they meet our criteria, qualified borrowers will be automatically discharged as bankrupts three years from the date of filing of the Statement of Affairs (Penyata Hal Ehwal),” said Abdul Rahman

Under the amended laws, someone at risk of being declared a bankrupt can settle his debt without bankruptcy proceedings with a voluntary agreement.

“Our intention is to ensure that borrowers will be able to pay back their loans without undue suffering and creditors will get their money back, too.”

He said debtors must adhere to the agreed sum of contribution paid to the creditors and they must also file their pay and expenses slip statement every six months throughout the three-year period.

“As long as they fulfil the payment within the period, we will release their names,” said Abdul Rahman.

Under the new amendments of the Bankruptcy Act 1967, the Government has introduced a rescue mechanism with a single bankruptcy order to replace the receiving order and adjudication order from the courts as practised previously.

“This move ensures that creditors are also protected under the amended laws,” he said.

The Act has also paved the way for the setting up of the Insolvency Assistance Fund and a release from bankruptcy without objection by the creditors for certain groups of people.

These include social guarantors made bankrupt under the Bankruptcy Act 1967, those who have died, those categorised as people with disabilities (OKU) by the Welfare Department and those certified by government medical officers as suffering from chronic or serious diseases.

The Star Malaysia by RAHIMY RAHIM rahimyr@thestar.com.my

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RM40mil siphoned off from the Malaysian Human Resources, Skills Development Fund Corp !



PETALING JAYA: Some RM40mil from the Skills Development Fund Corp is believed to have been siphoned off by those tasked with utilising it for the benefit of the people, sources revealed.

Anti-graft officers detained the cor­­­poration’s 58-year-old chief execu­­tive, who is a Datuk, over the alleged misappropriation of funds.

Others detained included the corporation’s 34-year-old secretary, a 32-year-old assistant financial officer and a 38-year-old director of a company who goes by the honorific “Dr” title.

All of them were picked up in seve­ral places in Kuala Lumpur between 4.30pm and 6pm yesterday.

One of the suspects is said to be an office-bearer with a state Umno division.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests.

Sources said the suspects were said to have collaborated with the company director to siphon the allocation provided by the Government.

The corporation is a statutory body under the Human Resources Mi­nistry. It is responsible for provi­ding financial assistance in the form of loans to individuals, such as school­-­leavers, graduates and others who are interested in pursuing Ma­­laysian Skills Certification, Malaysian Skills Diploma and Malaysian Ad­­van­ced Skills Diploma at public or private skills training institutions.

It is learnt that the misappropriation of funds has been going on since last year.

In 2016, the Government allocated RM35mil to the corporation and another RM40mil this year to carry out training programmes.

“Initial investigations showed RM15mil was believed to have been siphoned off last year. Another RM25mil is believed to have been misappropriated this year,” said a source.

It is learnt that three of the suspects had also collaborated with the company director to allow 15 of his registered companies to manage the training programmes.

But none of his companies was said to have been equipped with the expertise to conduct such training.

Azam said the MACC would be calling up several witnesses “very soon and that more arrests could be expected”.

“We will carry out a thorough probe as it involves public funds. Our officers will also be sei­zing relevant documents related to the case,” he said.

Source: By Simon Khoo The Star

‘Reward them to curb graft’ – It is not wrong to give cash to whistleblowers, says MACC chief

Video:
//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5574722710001

KUALA LUMPUR: Rewarding civil servants with cash for exposing corruption is not wrong but it should not be the sole focus, says Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mis­sion (MACC) chief commissioner pointed out that offering cash incentives to whistleblowers was just one of the many initiatives in tackling corruption.

“There are many more activities and campaigns done by us which should be taken into account. Is it wrong for us to reward those who refuse to accept a bribe? We are showing our appreciation to those who choose to remain clean, and we look up to these people,” he said after launching the MACC’s anti-corruption posters and painted messages on three Mara Liner buses at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan yesterday.

Civil servants who report cases of corruption are entitled to receive an incentive equal to the amount offered in the bribes, with the lowest sum set at RM500.

However, of the 1.6 million civil servants, only 0.01% have reported cases so far.

In acknowledging this, Dzulkifli said it should not be equated to many civil servants on the take or that they were not serious about eradicating corruption.

“As a matter of fact, we do have a number of them coming directly to provide information but they do not want to lodge an official report.

“Some refuse the bribes offered to them but choose to just tip us off without eyeing a reward,” he said.

On another matter, Dzulkifli opined that “sharks” were now fearful of the MACC due to the “aggressive action” against offenders.

“Clearly, we managed to instil a sense of fear. Many people I meet say they can see fewer giving or taking bribes.

“We see this as a positive sign. We will continue with new arrests, probes and charges every week,” he said.

Later in Putrajaya, Dzulkifli said they would wage a war against illegal gambling den operators and put a stop to their illegal business.

He said the time had come for the issue to be looked into seriously and aggressively, including licensed outlets and cybercafes which al­­lowed online gambling in their premises.

“The issue of gambling dens operating illegally is not new. In fact, even the Deputy Prime Minis­ter has spoken about it. But we don’t see the number of these outlets decreasing.

“I think it is about time we take aggressive action against the operators and those who protect them,” he said after a dialogue with NGO Fight Against Illegal Activities Movement or GBAH.- The Star

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Richard Riot questioned for 10 hours – Nation

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5593169288001

 

Minister’s political aide remanded – Nation

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Graft destroys nature as Corrupt officers see no evil as environment is being ravaged


Humans Are Destroying the Environment

PETALING JAYA: They are supposed to be guardians of the environment, and yet “certain enforcement officers” are found to be tolerating illegal activities that are detrimental to nature – all for personal gain.

Pollution and unauthorised felling of trees, for instance, could be traced to those working in cahoots with the culprits, according to sources.

Several recent cases such as the illegal bauxite mining in Kuantan, flash floods in Cameron Highlands and the illegal sawdust factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, Penanti, Butterworth, were all linked to abuse of power and corruption.

“Some of them are more inclined to soliciting and receiving monetary gains in lieu of their responsibilities in protecting the natural surroundings.

“As a result, it has created greater problems to the fragile environment at the expense of future generations,” said a source.

The source added that stern action needed to be meted out against these irresponsible officers in order to put a stop to the wanton destruction.

If nothing was done, it could lead to adverse effects to the people in terms of public health and safety, the source said.

“All enforcement agencies tasked to preserve the environment must be serious in discharging their duties diligently.

“In this regard, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has done its part to send out a stern warning with numerous arrests and prosecutions in court,” the source said.

Over the past few months, scores of enforcement officers including those from the Customs, Land Office and local councils were nabbed on suspicion of receiving bribes to turn a blind eye on illegal activities detrimental to the environment.

The MACC also held several dialogues with NGOs and environmental groups through an Environmental Protection and Anti-Corruption Caucus to share information on corruption issues.

With this strategic collaboration, illegal activities such as illegal logging, river pollution and clearing of land could be prevented from recurring.

By Simon Khoo The Star/Asian News Network

Authorities fighting an uphill battle against ‘rape of hills’

PETALING JAYA: The authorities are waging an endless war against illegal loggers, with some enforcement officers even labelling the wanton destruction of trees as “raping the hills”.

Cases of such destructive activities in recent years include uncontrolled logging and illegal farming in Cameron Highlands, which polluted several rivers.

In April this year, a former Terengganu Forestry Department director was charged with accepting RM60,000 from a timber contractor four years ago as an inducement to approve a logging application for Hulu Terengganu Forest Reserve.

Two men were detained in the Bukit Bauk Forest Reserve in Dungun in November last year for removing evidence of illegal logging during an ambush by the Forestry Department. Some 400 tonnes of logs were reportedly seized.

In August last year, a Datuk Seri and two others were arrested in connection with illegal logging in the Cerul forest reserve in Terengganu. They produced a letter from a “high-ranking officer” to evade arrest but failed.

In Pahang, 11 people were detained by the Forestry Department for trespassing into forest reserves with the intent to steal high-value timber.

The Auditor-General’s Report 2015 highlighted illegal logging and encroachment in Perak forest reserves and said it was due to the lack of monitoring and effective enforcement by the Perak Forestry Department.

Logging in Kelantan has also come under scrutiny following allegations of illegal and uncontrolled logging being a possible cause of the 2014 floods in Kuala Krai.

In 2013, Kelantan-based NGO Young People against Corruption (Ombak) discovered rampant land clearing and wanton destruction of virgin forests in Kuala Krai and Gua Musang, affecting at least five hills stretching from the Pahang-Kelantan and Kelantan-Perak borders.

Ombak president Wan Khairul Ihsan Wan Muhammad described the destruction as the “rape of the forested hills”, adding that the activities were stealthily done in the middle of forest reserves to avoid detection.

Anti-graft officers out to stop illegal timber business

PETALING JAYA: Illegal logging, which has cost the country billions of ringgit in losses in taxes and revenue, is the latest target of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Remote area: A file picture of a suspected illegal logging site in Bakun, Sarawak, that was raided by the MACC.

Anti-graft officers will be focusing on this issue after tackling illegal land clearing, bauxite mining and unlicensed factories.

It is learnt that incidents of illegal logging are “quite rampant and extensive”, causing a lot of destruction to the nation’s fragile eco-system and environment.

Some of the illegal activities are believed to be taking place deep in the jungle, including forest reserves and catchment areas, hidden from public view.

The problem is made worse when some enforcement officers tasked with taking action against illegal loggers are believed to have turned a blind eye and worked in cahoots with illegal loggers.

In return, the officers are said to be promised a certain percentage from profits from the illegal activities every month, paying no heed to the destruction of the country’s forests.

It is learnt that these unethical officers are raking in tens of thousand of ringgit every month as kickback and side income to finance their lavish lifestyle.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said such illegal activities must be nipped in the bud before they cause irreparable damage.

“We have received very reliable information from the public on illegal logging.

“It is not just in one particular area, but in several states throughout the country, including Sabah and Sarawak.

“We have set up a few flying squads and they are now collecting evidence on the ground,” he said when contacted yesterday.

He said illegal logging has caused serious pollution, while natural disasters, such as flash floods and landslides could occur more rapidly, endangering the lives of the people.

Azam said the main focus of investigations will be on elements of corruption and abuse of power involving several enforcement agencies, their officers and logging companies.

“Once we have gathered all the necessary evidence, a sting operation will be launched to nab the culprits,” he added.

He said MACC would be moving into several states “very soon”, adding that “we are pretty serious in tackling this issue”.

He welcomed tip-offs from the people to assist in putting a stop to illegal logging and other activities detrimental to the environment.

“We will also work closely with NGOs and environmental groups to collect information,” he added.

In November 2014, the then Sarawak chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem declared war on illegal logging, saying Sarawakians must not tolerate corruption anymore because millions in revenue had been lost.

The state, he said, had gained a bad reputation internationally because of “this robbery which is carried out in broad daylight”.

The MACC swung into action with a massive crackdown dubbed Ops Gergaji the following year, and together with several agencies, some 400 bank accounts belonging to companies and individuals with about RM600mil were frozen.

About RM1mil worth of illegally felled logs were also seized.

By Simon Khoo The Star/ANN
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Malaysian authorities crack down on virtual money operator, MBI Group International


Smooth operation: Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement director Datuk Mohd Roslan Mahayudin (centre) giving a press conference on the raids which yielded luxury vehicles and cash. Despite the crackdown by the authorities, investors continue to patronise M Mall, which is operated by MBI.

 

Dawn raids on MBI

 

Key member of MBI Group International remanded 98 bank accounts containing RM209mil frozen to date Three luxury cars and cash seized

The virtual money scheme operator was hit by three early morning raids in Penang and Kedah as a multi-agency task force acted on intelligence gathered in its ongoing anti-pyramid scheme probe. Investors say they regard this development as a temporary matter, while the public has been urged to come forward and help in the investigation. GEORGE TOWN: After watching the premises closely for a month, the authorities sprang into action and arrested a key person in virtual money scheme operator MBI Group International.

Four bank accounts of a newly- established company that belonged to the suspect’s relative, with deposits totalling RM30mil, were also frozen, while luxury cars and cash were seized in raids on three premises in Penang and Kedah carried out early on Monday morning.

Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement chief Datuk Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said the suspect, in his 50s, is believed to be the founder of the group.

“He has been remanded for four days since Monday for investigation under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” he said.

Speaking to reporters at the Bank Negara Malaysia office here, Mohd Roslan said the operation, codenamed Ops Token II, was staged because the premises were believed to be involved in a pyramid scheme.

“They were believed to be the cash storage transit before the money is transferred to other accounts for the purpose of the scheme’s activities,” he said.

Two of the premises were in Taman MBI Desaku in Kulim, Kedah, and one in Sungai Dua on mainland Penang.

Ops Token II was a follow-up to Ops Token I, which was carried out against Mface Club in Klang Valley and M Mall, Penang, on May 29.

Ops Token II was conducted by the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team, which comprises the ministry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, police, Customs, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Inland Revenue Board, Bank Negara, Companies Commission of Malaysia and the Immigration Department.

Mohd Roslan said the team had been monitoring the premises with the assistance of police for a month prior to the operation.

Three luxury vehicles – a Jaguar, a Range Rover and a Toyota Vellfire – and cash totalling RM2.235mil were seized during the raids, Mohd Roslan said.

The team confiscated RM280,000 from the site in Sungai Dua, and RM187,612 cash and RM218,000 worth of foreign notes from one of the Kedah locations. Nothing was seized from the third location.

The foreign currencies seized were Singapore dollars, US dollars, Thai baht, Australian dollars, Chinese yuan, New Zealand dollars, Indonesian rupiah, Korean won, Japanese yen, Hong Kong dollars, Taiwan dollars, Laotian kip and Cambodian riel, he added.

Mohd Roslan said with the latest series of raids, the number of local bank accounts frozen over the investigation into the group totalled 98, with combined funds of RM209mil.

The bank accounts included 49 company accounts and 49 individual accounts.

Mohd Roslan stressed that the authorities would continue investigating the group and all its subsidiary companies.

While no investors have lodged reports against the group so far, Mohd Roslan urged investors to step forward to assist in the investigation.

The authorities have not estimated the amount of losses suffered by the investors or the public, he added.

Under the Act, the suspect faces a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine of five times the amount or RM5mil, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The bank accounts, meanwhile, could be frozen for up to 90 days, while the authorities could investigate the matter for a year, Mohd Roslan added.

Authorities crack down on MBI

Key person held, luxury cars seized and accounts frozen

 

GEORGE TOWN: After watching the premises closely for a month, the authorities sprang into action and arrested a key person in virtual money scheme operator MBI Group International.

Four bank accounts of a newly-established company that belonged to the suspect’s relative, with deposits totalling RM30mil, were also frozen, while luxury cars and cash were seized in raids on three premises in Penang and Kedah carried out early on Monday morning.

Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement chief Datuk Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said the suspect, in his 50s, is believed to be the founder of the group.

“He has been remanded for four days since Monday for investigation under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” he said.

Speaking to reporters at the Bank Negara Malaysia office here, Mohd Roslan said the operation, codenamed Ops Token II, was staged because the premises were believed to be involved in a pyramid scheme.

“They were believed to be the cash storage transit before the money is transferred to other accounts for the purpose of the scheme’s activities,” he said.

Two of the premises were in Taman MBI Desaku in Kulim, Kedah, and one in Sungai Dua on mainland Penang.

Ops Token II was a follow-up to Ops Token I, which was carried out against Mface Club in Klang Valley and M Mall, Penang, on May 29.

Ops Token II was conducted by the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team, which comprises the ministry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, police, Cus­toms, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Inland Revenue Board, Bank Negara, Companies Commission of Malaysia and the Immigration Department.

Mohd Roslan said the team had been monitoring the premises with the assistance of police for a month prior to the operation.

Three luxury vehicles – a Jaguar, a Range Rover and a Toyota Vellfire – and cash totalling RM2.235mil were seized during the raids, Mohd Roslan said.

The team confiscated RM280,000 from the site in Sungai Dua, and RM187,612 cash and RM218,000 worth of foreign notes from one of the Kedah locations. Nothing was seized from the third location.

The foreign currencies seized were Singapore dollars, US dollars, Thai baht, Australian dollars, Chinese yuan, New Zealand dollars, Indonesian rupiah, Korean won, Japanese yen, Hong Kong dollars, Taiwan dollars, Laotian kip and Cambodian riel, he added.

Mohd Roslan said with the latest series of raids, the number of local bank accounts frozen over the investigation into the group totalled 98, with combined funds of RM209mil.

The bank accounts included 49 company accounts and 49 individual accounts.

Mohd Roslan stressed that the authorities would continue investigating the group and all its subsidiary companies.

While no investors have lodged reports against the group so far, Mohd Roslan urged investors to step forward to assist in the investigation.

The authorities have not estimated the amount of losses suffered by the investors or the public, he added.

Under the Act, the suspect faces a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine of five times the amount or RM5mil, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The bank accounts, meanwhile, could be frozen for up to 90 days, while the authorities could investigate the matter for a year, Mohd Roslan added.

Source: The Star by christopher tanandarnold loh

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