KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — A recent crackdown on cloned vehicles has led investigators to look at the possible involvement of personnel from government agencies, adjusters and insurance agents.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is not discounting the possibility the syndicates have links in Singapore where most of the vehicles are from.
The anti-graft body, together with the Road Transport Department (RTD), arrested 10 people and seized 167 luxury vehicles, including two high powered motorcycles, in a six-month operation.
The 10, who have been remanded, were arrested over their alleged involvement in the syndicates which engage with buyers online and through Facebook. More are expected to be nabbed.
Most of the vehicles were due to be scrapped in accordance with the republic’s policy on vehicles that are more than 10 years old.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said an MACC source.
“We are investigating several possibilities, including foreigners bringing their used cars into the country to sell them and returning home to declare they were stolen.”
“The syndicates could have links there. MACC and RTD have recorded statements of buyers and sellers of these vehicles.”
Asked if RTD officers could be involved, he said: “Maybe, but we are not just looking at RTD. We are looking at adjusters, insurance agents and even mechanics. How else would a syndicate know which vehicle was declared a total loss before transferring its details to the foreign car.”
“Some road tax were original while others were fake. Buyers, who did not go to the agent they bought the vehicle from, realised they were using fake road tax after trying to renew it. It is a complex syndicate involving many parties,” he told a joint press conference by MACC and RTD yesterday.
RTD director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad said the vehicles were confiscated from various locations in Terengganu, Seremban and Johor Baru.
“We have been working closely with MACC for the past six months based on a tip-off by one of our officers,” Ismail said.
“We know there are more cloned cars in the country.”
He said vehicles believed to have been smuggled were mostly second-hand ones from Singapore.
Some had fake supporting documents, road tax and number plates.
The vehicles consisted of BMW, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, Mini Cooper, Volkswagen and Volvo cars as well as two high-performance motorcycles, totalling more than RM13 million.
“The vehicles are believed to have caused RM7 million in tax losses, assuming that tax on each car was an average of RM50,000,” Ismail added.
“Vehicles brought into the country need a permit from the International Trade and Industry Ministry and approval from the Customs Department.”
MACC director of intelligence Datuk Mohd Azam Baki said the syndicates were daring enough to advertise online.
“Buyers search for the cars online and those who click on the advertisement know the cars are cloned,” he said.
“Some sites are easily available to the public. They syndicates only accept cash payments so there is no bank transaction trail.”
The officers in the joint operation posed as buyers and engaged with the sellers online before meeting them.
“The sellers admitted the cars were smuggled and had forged documents. They assured us the authorities would not check the vehicles,” Mohd Azam said.
MACC and RTD will implement an online system to integrate the database of insurance companies with RTD. It will take effect on June 1.
“With the integrated system, vehicles deemed as total losses cannot be re-registered. At present, RTD does not have access to such information.
“We are working towards integrating with Puspakom to deem which cars are beyond repair,” Mohd Azam said.
Another system linking RTD and the Customs Department started early this month and is expected to help detect cloned vehicles.