KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 ― An immigration officer was charged here today with receiving bribes totalling RM21,500 in exchange for helping foreigners who had committed immigration offences to leave Malaysia via the KLIA2 airport without having to face the law.
Mohd Al-Ridhuan Ahmad Zaini, 35, an immigration officer of the Grade KP19 at the Immigration Department of Malaysia pleaded not guilty and claimed trial to all 17 corruption charges under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act over the RM21,500 bribes received.
Mohd Al-Ridhuan, who was seen in court wearing a grey hooded jacket and dark blue jeans as well as a face mask, was accused of having received the bribes from an individual known as Nur Amamina Maulad Adnan through his wife's company's bank account in 17 separate transactions ranging from RM500 to RM1,500 each in the span of just a few months from late July to early November 2020.
Based on the 17 charges read out in court to Mohd Al-Ridhuan, he was said to have received bribes from Nur Amamina from a Maybank account to his wife Nurul Natasha Andrew’s company Entiti Maju Enterprise’s Bank Muamalat account in amounts of RM1,400 on July 25, RM1,400 (July 30), two transactions at RM1,500 each (July 31), RM700 (August 2), two transactions at RM1,500 each (August 5) and RM700 (November 11).
He was also accused of having received bribes from Nur Amamina from a CIMB bank account to the same Bank Muamalat account via two transactions at RM1,500 each on August 7, RM1,000 (August 7), RM800 (August 7), and two transactions at RM1,500 each on October 10, and via another CIMB Bank account owned by Kedai Gunting Rambut Amsyar again to the same Bank Muamalat account with two transactions of RM1,500 each on October 10 and RM500 (October 10).
All of the 17 corruption charges carry a penalty of a maximum 20-year jail, and a fine not less than five times the bribe or RM10,000 whichever is higher upon conviction.
Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin then offered bail of RM80,000 with one guarantor, acknowledging that the presumption of innocence until proven guilty applies to Mohd Al-Ridhuan's case but insisted on a high bail amount.
“If you look at the charges today, the modus operandi is the same and the offences said to be committed is serious, not just because of the sentence that will be imposed by this court if he is found guilty, but the way it was committed is that of a traitor to this country,” Wan Shaharuddin argued.
Wan Shaharuddin also asked for three additional bail conditions, namely for the accused to report every month to MACC's headquarters, to surrender his passport to the court, and to not disturb the witnesses in the case.
Mohd Al-Ridhuan's lawyer Harcharanjit Singh however asked for a lower bail amount of RM20,000 to secure his client's attendance, due to his client's continued cooperation to the MACC by attending each of the investigation sessions and also the court date today.
Harcharanjit also highlighted that his client had three young children aged seven, five and two and that the client's wife ― who is running her own business ― has serious medical problems including cyst problems and with a private hospital document showing a change yesterday in the cyst condition which required medical attention.
Harcharanjit confirmed that his client was still working with the Immigration Department and was never working on the frontlines, and confirmed that he had not been suspended from work and was receiving his pay as usual and had just two days ago reported to the Kuala Lumpur branch from the Putrajaya headquarters.
Harcharanjit did not object to the three additional bail conditions.
Wan Shaharuddin then responded by suggesting a bail amount of between RM20,000 to RM40,000 in light of the widespread attention from the public and media over these types of cases.
Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob pointed out that the bail amount is just to secure attendance and not to sentence the accused, before granting bail of RM30,000 with a Malaysian guarantor, and with the three additional conditions.
The judge said Mohd Al-Ridhuan must report to the MACC headquarters every month, and give up his passport to the court and be put on the blacklist from travelling abroad until the end of the case, while sternly warning that any attempt to threaten or harass witnesses could result in the bail being revoked.
“If the court receives any complaint, especially with regards to the wife who is a potential witness... once I hear any official report lodged, the bail can be revoked. Any single official complaint ― there must be a police report as well ― that you disturb any witnesses including your wife who may be a witness, the bail can be revoked,” the judge said.
The judge said this does not mean that the couple would have to live separately or would be barred from talking to each other, but stressed that both should be aware of the limits and asked the wife who was present in court not to interfere in the case.
The judge then fixed January 12 for the case to be mentioned again.
Mohd Ridhuan is one of those nabbed in the special sting operation Ops Selat which busted a syndicate involving immigration officers. Luxury cars namely a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Ford Mustang, a Range Rover and an Audi were reportedly seized during the operation.
On November 28, national news agency Bernama reported that 65 individuals have been arrested under Ops Selat, involving 39 immigration officers, 17 agents and nine civilians.
Separately, Pakistan national Muhammad Irfan pleaded guilty before Sessions Court judge Rozina over his November 16 giving of a RM12,500 bribe to an immigration officer to arrange for 21 foreigners who had overstayed in Malaysia to slip out via the KLIA airport without having to face legal action.
Irfan was sentenced with a 30-day jail term from today, and a fine of RM10,000 or a further 30-day jail if he is unable to pay the fine.