MACC: 5 banks used by international scammers to dupe victims

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Crooked bank employees had led to scammers reaping about RM200 million within just three months.

Five major banks in the country have come under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) radar for being used by international scammers to dupe victims, who transacted up to RM1 million a day after being conned.

Graft busters got wind of the bank’s roles following the recent MACC success in busting an international scamming syndicate in an operation codenamed Ops Tropicana.

The New Straits Times (NST) has learnt that at least 20 employees of the banks – including auditors and frontline officers, had facilitated such syndicates to open accounts without any hassle.

These accounts were then used by the scammers to collect cash deposited by victims who had been fleeced.

Most of the victims identified so far were those from Australia and the United Kingdom.

The bank officers were also reported to have kept a blind eye on suspicious transaction reports flagged to the bank accounts.

It is learnt the crooked bank employees had led to scammers reaping about RM200 million within just three months.

In return, the bankers pocketed between RM1,000 to RM2,000 for each bank account that was successfully opened without any due diligence.

“These accounts are just used for transit purposes because the syndicate will immediately layer the money deposited by moving it between various accounts until it ends up in the syndicate’s accounts in Hong Kong,” a source said, adding that the banks involved were all located in Kuala Lumpur.

It is learnt that there were about 20 to 30 bank accounts set up and the scammers would close and reopen new accounts every three months.

It is learnt that although it was the employees which had worked with the syndicates, the banks were still on the MACC radar for corporate liability.

The MACC had also identified seven to eight dummy companies set up by the scammers to open the bank accounts.

These companies – which were even registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM), would be used to promote fake investment schemes to lure victims.

Investigators have also established that the syndicate had worked out their operations to the tee by linking renowned international companies to their scams.

MACC investigations showed that the syndicate was active in various countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and UK.

The NST previously reported that the MACC had smashed an international investment scam syndicate, which had raked in a whopping RM200 million from victims in Australia and the United Kingdom.

The covert operation, code-named Op Tropicana , saw at least 25 premises in Klang Valley and Penang being raided by the graft busters.

MACC said the syndicate had bribed various enforcement authorities to enable their operations to continue unhindered since 2019.

The syndicate, he said, consisted of Australians, Britons, South Africans and Filipinos.

The syndicate had lured victims to park money in non-existent investment portfolios.

It had set up 24 companies which were used to temporarily park money transferred by victims abroad, before the money was channelled to other bank accounts overseas.

The end destination would be the syndicates’ accounts. It is understood that the syndicate had used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, which allowed them to mask their numbers to make it appear as if they were indeed representatives of the particular companies.

Meanwhile, MACC Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture (AML) Division director, Datuk Mohamad Zamri Zainul Abidin when contacted said two ringleaders of the syndicate – both UK citizens – will be charged in the Shah Alam Court today.

Corporate liability laws under Section 17A of the MACC Act dictates that an offence committed by persons associated to the commercial organisation is automatically deemed to have committed the offence unless it can prove “adequate procedures to prevent” the conduct. – NST