KUALA LUMPUR: Seven individuals, including a company director and three enforcement officers, have been remanded for three days in connection with smuggling activities uncovered in Port Klang.

Sources indicated that the suspects — two women and five men, aged between their 30s and 50s — were detained at various locations around Port Klang on Thursday (June 6) by graft busters in an ongoing operation codenamed “Ops Transit.”

The suspects, comprising three enforcement officers, three company employees, and a company director, were brought to a Putrajaya Magistrate’s Court on Friday (June 7) for the remand application.

Magistrate Irza Zulaikah Rohanuddin granted a three-day remand until Sunday (June 9).

“The syndicate is believed to have made false declarations in Customs forms to avoid tax and import fees, which required permits from several agencies such as the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) and the Energy Commission.

“The syndicate’s mastermind is a Singaporean citizen currently abroad on vacation with his family. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has also frozen nine bank accounts belonging to the company and the detained individuals,” said a source.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya confirmed the arrests when contacted. “We are investigating under Section 17(b) and 16(a) of the MACC Act 2009. We will also investigate the case under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) 2001,” he said.

Following discussions with Customs director-general Datuk Anis Rizana Mohd Zainuddin, Ahmad Khusairi said that cases involving false declarations and other offences under the Customs Act 1967 will be handled by the Customs Department, while the Inland Revenue Board will scrutinise all aspects of tax payments by the company and individuals involved.

It was reported that in a recent special operation in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, a special task force led by the MACC detained 19 container lorries suspected of carrying various types of smuggled goods.

Sources revealed that the syndicate owned more than 10 forwarding companies used to smuggle imported goods by submitting false tax declarations.

The investigation conducted over three months found that the modus operandi involved using various forwarding companies registered under the names of individuals unaware of the import and export transactions.

This deception enabled syndicate members to evade action against them by claiming no connection to the said companies.

“It is estimated that this syndicate manages about 3,000 containers per month. The estimated tax evasion over the 10 years of operation amounts to RM3.5bil, based on a minimum tax of RM7,000 for each container,” said the source.

To avoid taxation, the syndicate made false declarations using Customs Form 9, declaring the goods as non-taxable items such as wheelchairs and medical supplies.

The investigation also revealed that these “flying containers” would enter the Public Licensed Warehouse at North Port for only 10 to 15 minutes to deceive authorities, with the containers not undergoing proper Customs inspection and then being distributed throughout the country.