Graft busters seize copters, yacht after raid on datuk's house

Investigators seized two helicopters, a yacht and several luxury cars from a man believed to be the leader of a syndicate bidding for government contracts using hundreds of shell companies.
Investigators seized two helicopters, a yacht and several luxury cars from a man believed to be the leader of a syndicate bidding for government contracts using hundreds of shell companies.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

PUTRAJAYA • The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) found a total of RM3.5 million (S$1.14 million) in cash when it raided a house belonging to a 47-year-old datuk, believed to be the ringleader of a syndicate which won bids for government contracts worth billions of ringgit using hundreds of shell companies.

MACC investigators discovered in the raid on Monday that the datuk had amassed an extraordinary amount of assets, including a luxury yacht and two helicopters.

Luxury cars worth RM15.7million as well as real estate including bungalows, a shophouse and an office worth RM29 million have also been seized by the graft busters since Monday.

Sources said 644 bank accounts belonging to individuals and companies, estimated at RM100 million, were also frozen in the course of the investigation.

They said that with the help of insiders in ministries and agencies, the syndicate had an advantage in securing government contracts and tenders.

The syndicate leader controls more than 150 shell companies that were used to submit bids for government contracts, especially those involving facility maintenance and development projects.

The suspect had employed other individuals as directors to conceal the ownership of the companies.

"MACC investigators believe the syndicate has the cooperation of insiders who are handsomely paid to ensure these companies are allowed to enter the tender process and also to ensure their bids were successful," said a source.

The so-called "project cartel" syndicate is believed to have been awarded 345 tenders with an estimated value of RM3.8 billion from ministries and agencies since 2014.

MACC officers found the names of hundreds of individuals were used to open companies under the syndicate leader's control.

The information provided to open the companies was false. Financial statements submitted to participate in the tender process were also fake.

According to the sources, the MACC has been working on the case for almost a year to determine the scope of the syndicate's activities before closing in on the members in a special operation on Sunday night.

The main suspect and six others were arrested at two locations in Ampang and Cyberjaya where they were caught red-handed filling up tender application forms.

The seven suspects were brought before Magistrate Shah Wira Abdul Halim on Monday and will be remanded until Saturday.

MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki did not rule out the possibility of more arrests being made in connection with the syndicate's activities.

Earlier yesterday, MACC arrested the eighth suspect - a senior officer from a government agency - for his alleged involvement in the syndicate.

The 38-year-old suspect, a quantity surveyor, is believed to have prepared bills of quantity for projects offered by a government agency.

Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali promised to take action against civil servants involved in the syndicate.

"I regret that there are a handful of civil servants who allowed themselves to be used to score lucrative rewards," Tan Sri Mohd Zuki said in a statement yesterday.

"I give my assurance that stern action will be taken against any civil servant, if proven guilty, involved in this issue or any misconduct that taints the image of the public service."

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2021, with the headline 'Graft busters seize copters, yacht after raid on datuk's house'. Subscribe