The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested four people in connection with the meat cartel scandal.
The suspects, aged between 30 and 50, comprise two directors and an employee of an importing company, and a director of another importing company.
“The suspects have been remanded for four days beginning today,” said Johor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission director Datuk Azmi Alias.
He said the remand orders for the suspects were issued by Johor Lower Court Registrar Nur Izzaty Muhammad Zahari.
It was earlier reported that a syndicate was bribing senior government officers to allow non-certified meat to be smuggled into Malaysia and passed off as halal.
It is learnt that the syndicate imported meat from non-certified slaughterhouses in a number of countries.
Frozen kangaroo and horse meat were reported to have been illegally imported and repackaged as halal for sale in supermarkets across Malaysia.
The recent expose had prompted assurances of an all-out investigation and systems review from several agencies, including the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), whose halal certificate was misused in the labelling of the illicit products.
Sources told The Malaysian Insight the four were arrested last night when they turned up at the Johor MACC office to have their statements recorded.
Last week, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Deputy Minister Rosol Wahid said that a frozen meat importing company believed to be behind an illegal meat cartel will be charged in court soon.
He said the investigation papers on the company located in Johor Bahru was almost complete as the ministry had obtained results of a meat analysis from the Chemistry Department on Dec 28.
“When we want to charge (in court) the meat must be sent to the laboratory to be checked whether it is indeed kangaroo meat, horse meat, pork, or any other meat. So, it takes time,” he said.
He added that the Chemistry Department had already assisted by expediting the checks as it was a matter of public concern.
The Hulu Terengganu MP said the company was believed to have repackaged imported meat by imitating the logos of Malaysia’s leading frozen meat distributors.
Meanwhile, MACC deputy chief commissioner (Operations) Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya told Bernama that all related documents belonging to the frozen meat import company, believed to be involved in the meat syndicate issue, were seized two weeks ago.
He said the MACC will go through all seized documents dating back to 2015 and company’s accounts to track down the mastermind, including the enforcement personnel involved in protecting the activities.
“The investigation into this case is conducted under Section 18 and Section 17 (a) of the MACC Act,” he said.
On the detention of the directors and employees of frozen meat import companies, Khusairi said the items were imported illegally from several countries without the authorities’ approval.
“The focus of the MACC investigation is on two aspects, first is the offence of submitting false declarations in Customs Form 1 by the import company and agents handling the process.
“The second aspect is to examine if any form of corruption money was being paid through the accounts of the company involved,” he said.
He said in every MACC investigation, elements of secrecy and surprise are crucial if a case gets widespread media exposure.
“It seems to give them (bribe giver and receiver) a chance to dispose of all the evidence. Being quiet does not mean that the agencies involved in the investigation do not take action, but collecting evidence requires time and careful analysis,” he added.