MACC nabs 34 in nationwide swoop

(The Star) – The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested 34 people including a special officer and a private secretary to two politicians for bribery involving sand mining and smuggling activities.

Its deputy chief commissioner Datuk Shukri Abdull said all those arrested in five states since Tuesday were Malaysians and included 24 government servants, five civilians and three from the private sector.

The bribes, he said, were meant as inducement to approve or expedite approval for sand mining permits and to refrain from taking action against those illegally mining or transporting sand.

He said with the arrests, the MACC believed that it had also smashed a syndicate smuggling sand into a neighbouring country.

Shukri however refused to name the country or how many of those arrested were involved with the syndicate.

“The total amount in bribes involving the 34 suspects that we have traced so far is RM280,000 and we believe they were paid between RM500 and RM50,000 each with some of them receiving payments on a monthly basis.

“We have also found that three of those arrested received sexual favours,” he told a special press conference to announce the arrests here Wednesday.

He said MACC officers had confiscated RM50,000 in cash from the suspects and some of them had been released after their statements were recorded.

Shukri said some of those arrested were high ranking officers in the government and the commission expected to make more arrests in the coming days.

He would not however divulge the rank of the officers arrested or confirm if those yet to be arrested included senior government officials.

He also would not say if Selangor state executive councillor Yaakob Sapari’s executive secretary, Hussien Ahmad, 62, was among the 34 arrested over sand mining and smuggling activities.

Shukri said the arrests were made following 410 reports from the public of graft involving sand related activities and investigations and the monitoring of the activities of those involved had been ongoing since April last year.

“We started to look into the matter seriously because such cases of corruption can cause the respective state governments to lose thousands of ringgit in revenue,” he said.

He also called on the public to cooperate with MACC officers who were conducting investigations as his men were only doing their job for the benefit of the public.

“I was told there was a slight incident when my officers went to make an arrest in Selangor and the suspect only agreed to go with the officers after they spoke to his lawyer and explained the matter to him,” he said, adding that such actions were tantamount to obstructing a government officer from carrying out his duties.