MACC: RM25m worth of goods and assets seized from Immigration hacking syndicate; inside help a possibility

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki (left) and Immigration Department director general Datuk Indera Khairul Dzaimee Daud attend a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 7, 2021. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki (left) and Immigration Department director general Datuk Indera Khairul Dzaimee Daud attend a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 7, 2021. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today announced that it has seized a total of RM25.5 million worth of assets including luxury cars, high-end watches, properties and hard cash from members of a syndicate specialising in fake work passes.

This comes after five individuals, including a “Datuk”, were arrested yesterday in an joint operation dubbed “Ops Hacks” for allegedly being involved in a syndicate that hacks into the Immigration Department’s database to issue fake Temporary Working Visit Pass (PLKS).

In a joint press conference with the Immigration Department, MACC chief Datuk Seri Azam Baki added that 147 bank accounts owned by 30 individuals have also been frozen as investigations are still underway.

“All suspects have been remanded for six days from the date of their arrest yesterday to further assist investigations,” Azam said.

Azam added that one of those arrested was formerly with the Immigration Department, and that it is likely that this person’s knowledge of the system is how the syndicate managed to manoeuvre its way around the system. 

Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud thanked the MACC for its assistance in quashing the syndicate, which he believes has made RM4.7 million in 2018 producing fake work permits for foreign workers in the agricultural, manufacturing and service industries.

“We have known about this hacking issue for some time now, and last year, we held an internal investigation to which we discovered a large-scale operation involving those outside the department.

“We requested assistance from the MACC, and a special task force was established to investigate the matter. It took us a while to compile all the information we needed because of Covid-19 and the evasive nature of this syndicate,” he said.

He added that the modus operandi of the syndicate was to hack the Immigration database using Immigration officers’ IDs, where they would ‘clone’ the system to allow them to use it outside the department.

Khairul added that investigations are still ongoing as they believe that the syndicate has been receiving help from inside the department.

He added that several electronic devices were found in the department's lobby and near the computers of officers.

“No Immigration officer was detained in the operations but I am not discounting arrests," he said.

Yesterday, the MACC announced that it has crippled a syndicate issuing PLKS to foreign workers after arresting five individuals, including a man with a “Datuk” title.

The arrest of the five suspects, aged between 33 and 43, also succeeded in solving the problem faced by the Immigration Department, which had had its PLKS system hacked into by the syndicate.

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