MACC’s No 2 slams ‘culture of greed’ over pandemic aid

A senior Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) official has condemned the “culture of greed” and “fading value of integrity” among several companies tasked with assisting the government to channel funds or aid to the needy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a strongly-worded statement today, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya noted the “serious leakages” and misappropriation of such programmes, and said “there is no use for fancy policies when their implementation is a failure”.

Khusairi said a large number of people were affected and burdened by job loss, unemployment and business setbacks during the pandemic, with the government then introducing grants, loans, moratoriums, skills training programmes and special financial assistance.

“But what happened? There was a large group of individuals, companies and organisations that had taken the opportunity to profit from the rights and sufferings of the affected people,” he said.

“These people blatantly took advantage of the funds provided by the government by making false claims for personal wealth.

“This is the attitude of economic opportunists on a small and medium scale. The value of integrity has faded and greed has become a culture.”

Khusairi said MACC arrested 133 company owners or directors last year after their alleged involvement in the misappropriation and leakages of funds and aid.

He said more than 100 companies had been investigated for misappropriation of funds estimated to total RM194 million.

As of today, 34 company owners or directors have been charged in court with submitting false claims.

Khusairi said there were numerous loopholes that allowed for abuse to happen, such as weaknesses in the process of authenticating information submitted by applicants. This had resulted in several companies being owned by the same person making multiple claims.

He also highlighted how the nationwide emergency from Jan 11 to Aug 1, 2021 was used as an excuse to “not perform due diligence on applicants”.

He said there were no clear mechanisms to monitor the programmes or activities that were supposed to be carried out to ensure they were implemented properly.

He also said there were no clear rules and laws to take action against applicants such as instituting civil suits, reclaiming unspent funds or blacklisting them.

Khusairi said the agencies which were channelling funds should be constantly monitored, adding that the key performance indicators (KPIs) should not be based on how many people had received aid, how much aid had been channelled, or how many programmes or activities had been conducted.

“All these KPIs are purely quantitative in nature. What should be measured is the impact or outcome of the activity or programme.

“Only then can the intention to reduce unemployment, reduce the number of problematic businesses, and the development of potential and skills of the working class be achieved,” he said.