PUTRAJAYA: A syndicate believed to have raked in more than RM10mil in “payments” from companies providing umrah services has been crippled.

The activities of this syndicate, said to have been operating since 2018, were put to an end following a nationwide blitz by graft investigators on Thursday.

Six individuals – a director and the travel agencies’ staff members – were arrested in the special operations carried out in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Kedah.

The syndicate was believed to have been responsible for determining the distribution of flight seats to companies providing umrah services.

It is learnt that the syndicate would demand a bribe in the form of commissions for allocating a certain number of flight seats to these companies.

Sources said that an international airline company gave one of the firms the job of being the sole agent in charge of managing and distributing seats on each umrah flight.

The syndicate’s modus operandi is to impose “payment” between RM50 and RM250 for each ticket under the quota for umrah.

“This payment is referred to as an assurance to the agencies that provide seats for umrah services on flights.

“Investigators believe that the syndicate’s activities started in 2018 and that as much as 216,000 tickets were distributed under this corrupt arrangement involving at least RM10.8mil,” said a source.

The suspects, aged between 34 and 55, were arrested at the MACC headquarters on Thursday evening.

They were brought before Magistrate Irza Zulaikha Rohanuddin, who allowed for the suspects to be remanded for four days until Feb 13.

MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki confirmed the arrests, adding that a probe is ongoing.