Bukit Kayu Hitam – A fuel smuggling syndicate mastermind was caught red handed by graft busters when he tried to bribe law enforcers yesterday.
The 45-year-old man was arrested at a warehouse in the Bukit Kayu Hitam Industrial Area when he was about to hand over RM1,200 bribe to a team of Putrajaya Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Ministry enforcement officers.
Sources said the syndicate had been active in smuggling subsidised RON95 petrol in large quantities to Thailand, besides selling the fuel to Thai visitors here for more than four months.
A team of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers started a surveillance operation last month after they received a tip-off on the syndicate’s activities.
“The MACC was informed that this warehouse, which was turned into an illegal petrol storage and pump station, was famous among Thais who wanted to buy petrol in large quantities. The premises has earned a reputation that it was ‘immune’ from raids, as the syndicate members claimed they had enforcement agencies’ officers in their payroll.
“When the team of nine plainclothes MACC and three ministry officers raided the warehouse this morning, the syndicate’s boss thought that he could get away by offering cash,” said the source, adding that four other syndicate members in their 40s were also nabbed in the 8am operation.
Initial investigations revealed that the syndicate, which opened their business from 7am to 10pm daily, charged RM2.57 for each litre of RON95 fuel.
It is learnt that they could smuggle an average of 7,000 litres a day, and with 27 sen profit from each litre sold, the syndicate had been raking in about RM60,000 every month.
The foreigners were willing to pay RM2.57 per litre, compared to its retail price of RM2.30 here, as it is still much cheaper compared to the price they have to pay in Thailand (currently at about RM4.30 per litre).
Sources said the graft busters also received information that there were at least six other illegal stores that conduct similar operations in several areas here.
In the operation led by Putrajaya MACC officer Shahrum Nizam Baharudin, the agencies also seized 1,000 litres of the fuel stored inside the premises, alongside fuel tanks and equipment used by the syndicate, as well as the RM1,200 cash.
The case is being investigated under Section 17(b) of the MACC Act 2009 for offering bribes to law enforcement officers, and Control of Supplies Act 1961. – NST