Malaysian Police Arrest 12 Law Enforcers Suspected of Links to Crime Ring

S. Adie Zul and Noah Lee
Kuala Lumpur
2021-04-27
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Malaysian Police Arrest 12 Law Enforcers Suspected of Links to Crime Ring The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Putrajaya, July 3, 2018.
Reuters

Malaysian police arrested 12 senior law enforcement officers on suspicion of working with an alleged crime lord linked to a Chinese criminal syndicate, the police chief of Johor state said on Tuesday.

Two officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) were among those arrested, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said.

“The Johor Commercial Crimes [unit] had launched an operation from April 21 to 27 and arrested 12 law enforcement officers aged between 36 and 49,” the Johor police chief said. “The officers were rounded up … in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan.”

The arrests came as Malaysian police intensified the crackdown against law enforcement officers suspected of working with fugitive criminal Nicky Liow Soon Hee – the alleged leader of the Nicky Gang.

In an exclusive interview with BenarNews earlier this month, Ayob issued a stern warning against anyone, including officers, about working with the underworld criminal gang leader who is at large after giving the police a slip. Investigators believe he was tipped to an impending raid.

Among the highlights of the latest nationwide crackdown was the arrest of the MACC officers in Putrajaya.

“The two are an assistant commissioner and an officer attached with the MACC Putrajaya,” he said.

MACC Chief Commissioner Azam Baki confirmed the arrests in a press release on Tuesday.

“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission acknowledges the arrest of two officers with the commission who are allegedly linked to the Nicky Gang,” the statement said. “MACC has extended our cooperation to the police force by handing over the two officers to facilitate the investigation.”

“I view this matter seriously and will not compromise. In fact, we will hand over more officers [to the police] if they are involved,” Azam added.

The pair and the 10 other law enforcement officers are being held under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012 that allows investigators to detain suspects for 28 days without filing charges.

The 12 are being investigated under two sections of the penal code over their alleged involvement in organized crime and could face up to 20 years in prison, if charged and convicted.

Ayob said with the arrests, police have taken 64 suspects into custody.

Among those are 14 people including Liow’s brothers, Liow Wei Kin and Liow Wei Loon, who were charged with involvement in an organized criminal group earlier this month.

Not all suspects have been charged, according to investigators.

Asked on Tuesday whether there would be more arrests in the near future, Ayob replied: “If there are new names, we will conduct a follow-up investigation. Let us conduct a detailed interrogation and complete the investigation. I cannot give the details. I did not mention the names because they have yet to be charged.”

The Johor chief said police continue efforts to track down Liow but were not sure if he had fled or remained in Malaysia. Police officials have reached out to Interpol earlier this month to seek international assistance in tracking the fugitive.

Leak warning

Ayob warned people to not spread leaked information about the 12 officers detained in the latest raids, adding stern action would be taken against those who do.

“Johor State Police have identified classified information containing the list of 12 individuals from law enforcement agencies who have been arrested in connection with ongoing probes of the Nicky Gang which has been shared and circulated via Whatsapp application by certain quarters,” Ayob said in the statement.

“Johor State Police will identify those responsible and action could be taken under Section 203A(1) of the Penal Code which carries fine not more than 1 million ringgit (U.S. $244,000) or imprisonment up to one year or both, upon conviction.”

On March 30, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Abdul Hamid Bador revealed that authorities were investigating 34 public sector personnel, including police who were believed to have protected the Nicky Gang and allowed Liow to escape.

Abdul Hamid said the 33-year-old businessman was believed to have been tipped off on the impending raid by police and government agency officers, including a deputy public prosecutor.

US sanctions

A series of sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department on a Macau underworld kingpin allowed the Royal Malaysia Police to establish links to the Nicky Gang headed by Liow, Ayob told BenarNews in an April 21 interview.

The investigation revealed that Liow was close to Wan Kuok Koi (commonly known as Broken Tooth), the leader of 14K Triad – one of the largest Chinese organized crime gangs in the world that has tentacles in many countries. Media reports claim the gang has more than 20,000 members.

Ayob had said Liow, who is believed to be worth more than 1 billion ringgit ($244 million), amassed his fortune after striking a partnership with a China-based get-rich-quick operator, Zhang Jiang, who is jailed in his own country because of the scheme.

Liow’s Nicky Gang also operates a telecommunication scam where it tricks victims, mostly in China, into handing over large sums of money, allowing the gang to allegedly amass millions of ringgit.

During a series of raids last month to take down the Nicky Gang, police arrested more than 50 people and seized 773,000 ringgit ($187,500) along with 35 vehicles valued at 8.86 million ringgit ($2.14 million) under provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act of 2001.

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