Four remanded in Malaysia's fake halal meat scandal as corruption probe gets under way

The syndicate had allegedly been making fake labels and stamps to be pasted on packages of meat not certified to be halal.
The syndicate had allegedly been making fake labels and stamps to be pasted on packages of meat not certified to be halal.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Four individuals, including a frozen meat importing company director, have been remanded for four days in connection with a meat cartel scandal here.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) director Datuk Azmi Alias said that the individuals are the company's director, operation director and one of its clerks, as well as the director of a wholesale company.

He said that the MACC is investigating the case under Section 17(b) of the MACC 2009 Act, which carries a fine of five times the amount of the bribe or RM10,000 (S$3,269) or whichever is higher, and imprisonment of not more than 20 years upon conviction.

Assistant registrar Nur Izzaty Muhammad Zahari allowed the four suspects, aged between 39 and 50, including one woman, to be remanded starting from Monday (Jan 4) to facilitate MACC's investigation.

Recently, the authorities busted a syndicate that had been smuggling meat from Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina and China, and repackaging them with a halal logo.

A raid was carried out at a warehouse in Senai, Johor, where 1,500 tonnes of frozen meat worth RM30 million were seized.

The syndicate, believed to have been operating for a few years, had allegedly been using the warehouse as a location to make fake labels and stamps to be pasted on packages of meat not certified to be halal.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya said the commission has conducted a series of raids over the past two weeks in its investigations, and import documents dating back to 2015 were seized during the raids.

"Investigators are going through the documents and the companies' accounts to trace their activities.

"We are in the process of determining the mastermind behind the meat cartel and if they had received protection from any enforcement officers," he said on Monday.

The focus of the investigation will be on two aspects, including the offence of submitting false declarations in Customs Form 1 by the importing companies and agents handling the importation process.

Sources said the second focus is on whether the said companies had paid any corruption money via their accounts.