PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today disclosed the value of leakages due to the smuggling activities of a syndicate which involved members of the Royal Malaysian Customs Department at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Cargo in Sepang Cargo amounted to RM2 billion for the past three years.

MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki (pix) said so far, a total of 34 law enforcement personnel and 27 individuals and company owners have been arrested through Ops Samba 2.0 for protecting and facilitating the smuggling activities of the syndicate concerned.

He said the law enforcement personnel, aged between 30 and 50, were believed to have received more than RM4.7 million in bribes from the syndicate to facilitate the smuggling of chewing tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol, health products and vehicle spare parts.

“(Ops Samba 2.0) is important because we uncover corrupt activities involving enforcement agencies. It is believed to have happened for some time, since 2017 and the losses incurred by the (Malaysian) government because of this syndicate is RM1.5 billion to RM2 billion, which is leakage in tax collection,“ he told a press conference here today.

Ops Samba 2.0 is an operation involving the MACC, together with the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), to combat the corrupt activities of enforcement agency officers who protect smuggling activities.

Azam said several mobile phones, laptops and eight luxury vehicles belonging to the syndicate had been seized to facilitate the investigation.

A total of 232 bank accounts belonging to companies and individuals have also been frozen, he said, adding that they include mule accounts, which involved more than RM17 million.

Regarding the syndicate's modus operandi, he said the syndicate used the service of a 'forwarding agent' as a middleman for paying bribes to law enforcers who are in charge of inspection.

“This is to smooth the process of smuggling goods without going through the proper declaration and inspection,“ he said.

Azam said the syndicate was also found to be involved in money laundering activities using business accounts of 'ghost companies', money changers, online gambling activities, prostitution activities and also through licensed money lending companies.

“A total of 19 ‘ghost companies’ were detected involving various types of business to confuse the authorities, especially the IRB,“ he said. -Bernama