Couple held in Johor Baru over links to 'cloned car' syndicate

Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad, director-general of Malaysia's Road Transport Department, last Friday inspecting "cloned" cars brought in from Singapore, which were later given new chassis numbers and sold in Malaysia.
Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad, director-general of Malaysia's Road Transport Department, last Friday inspecting "cloned" cars brought in from Singapore, which were later given new chassis numbers and sold in Malaysia.PHOTO: THE STAR VIDEO SCREENGRAB

Man, wife allegedly on the way to deliver BMW from S'pore to buyer in JB: Police

JOHOR BARU • A 26-year-old man driving his wife in a flashy BMW ended up being nabbed, together with his spouse, for their alleged links to a so-called "cloned car" syndicate.

The couple were on their way to deliver the BMW to a buyer in the Johor capital on Thursday night, said Road Transport Department director-general Ismail Ahmad. He said the BMW was brought into the country from Singapore before it was given the registration and chassis numbers of another car that had been reported as a "total loss".

He alleged that the couple were part of a local syndicate which worked with their Singaporean counterparts to bring such vehicles into Malaysia. The cars brought in were usually those with about-to- expire Certificates of Entitlement, and were bought for between $3,000 and $5,000.

"The vehicles are then sold to clients at prices ranging from RM20,000 (S$6,675) to RM30,000 depending on whether they were models like BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Honda or Toyota," he said.

Despite the couple's claims that they were "new" to the business, Datuk Seri Ismail said police believed they had been operating for some time and had allegedly sold at least 20 such vehicles.

Luxury sedans less than 10 years old were reportedly going for between RM14,000 and RM40,000 on websites and social media sites, while Japanese cars are cheaper. A Toyota Camry can cost RM7,800 while a Honda Jazz can cost as low as RM9,000.

They were arrested during a joint operation by police, the Customs Department and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. They were handed to the Customs Department before being charged in court.

Since the launch of the operation against "cloned vehicles" in April last year, the department had seized 917 cloned cars and about 20 cases had ended up in court, mostly against those who bought such cars. He said buying and dealing in such cars was a violation of laws as the offenders evaded paying taxes.

A report last year quoted a man running an illegal car cloning syndicate across the Causeway as saying that the trade is a thriving one. Illegal dealers claimed Singaporeans living and working in Malaysia are among those who buy these cars.

Luxury sedans less than 10 years old were reportedly going for between RM14,000 and RM40,000 on websites and social media sites, while Japanese cars are cheaper. A Toyota Camry can cost RM7,800 while a Honda Jazz can cost as low as RM9,000.

These sites also allegedly provide fake documents for the vehicle.

Mr Maliki Mohamed, a salesman with Carrency Trading, which deals in both new and used cars in Singapore, said sometimes the owners of the Singapore-registered car, after selling it to an illegal dealer, would claim he had lost his vehicle in Malaysia and get his insurer to pay up.

He also believes those involved in such cloned vehicle syndicates are taking a "very, very big risk".

He said: "If there is an accident, which insurance company is going to cover it if the car is no longer registered?"

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

•Additional reporting by Chitra Kumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'Couple held over links to 'cloned car' syndicate'. Print Edition | Subscribe