PUTRAJAYA: Suspects in the RM24mil bribery case involving the chief executive officer of a bank’s subsidiary have painstakingly carried out what graft investigators described as “complex and intricate layering of financial transactions” to hide the corrupt payment.
It is learnt that investigators had worked on the case since last year following a tip-off and after months of poring over documents, they discovered how elements of money laundering, corruption and cross-border transactions came into play.
“The suspects have worked hard to cover their tracks. The money meant for bribery payment was transferred several times and into different accounts in an attempt to avoid alarms being raised,” a source familiar with the investigation told Sunday Star.
It is learnt that in 2009, the bank had received a working paper for an application from a company listed on Bursa Malaysia for a loan of RM294mil.
The loan application was for the company – of which one of the three suspects was a member of the board of directors – to take over the shares of another public-listed company.
The working paper was prepared by a company owned by another suspect in this case.
Sources said after going through the application, the bank approved the loan and at that point in time, the bank subsidiary CEO – said to be the main suspect in this case – was the person responsible for evaluating the application.
“After the loan was approved, the bank made a few transfers to a few respective parties.
“One of the transfers involved RM25mil and was made to a proxy company’s account, following a directive of the board member (suspect),” said the source.
A sum of RM24mil was transferred from the proxy account to an offshore one in another country.
“Investigations revealed that the CEO is the actual owner and signatory of the offshore account,” said the same source.
It is learnt that the authorities had so far frozen RM22.6mil in 22 accounts belonging to individuals and companies.
“The investigating team has managed to track down money amounting to RM16.3mil in the possession of the main suspect that is kept in a neighbouring country,” said a source.
Four suspects – a woman and three men, all in their 50s – have been arrested.
The latest arrest involved an ex-CEO of a bank, a Datuk who has been remanded until July 25.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki said the discovery of this case reflected the need for the banking sector to carry out due diligence, including when approving loans.
“This is one of the leakages that happens in the banking sector. In this case, there was a leakage of RM25mil due to corruption.
“Imagine if 10 such loans were approved by a bank and a chunk of it is bribery payment.
“That is a big leakage which needs to be plugged, which is why banks’ top management must be vigilant when going through loan applications,” he said.
Azam said these were some of the modus operandi which his investigators discovered during their course of probing financial crime.
“This case is an example of how money is being siphoned, how loans are taken up to bribe officials and how banks are used for money laundering,” he said.
Under Section 17A of the MACC Act, which took effect in 2020, commercial organisations, including banks, can be liable if its employees are involved in corruption.
The MACC chief said his investigators’ expertise in financial analysis and probing money trails had led to this discovery.