MMEA and Fisheries officers among 22 nabbed over illegal fishing

Radzi Razak

Maritime Enforcement Agency chief Admiral Zulkifili Abu Bakar (right) and MACC chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad in Putrajaya today to announce the crippling of an illegal fishing syndicate. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, November 6, 2017.

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has detained 22 people, including six maritime and fisheries agency officers, over alleged involvement in an illegal fishing syndicate encroaching on Malaysian waters.

Investigations by MACC and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) also led to the arrest of seven Vietnamese suspects, including a woman with a “Datuk” title, who were believed to have been bribing Malaysian officials in order to have their fishing boats released after they were seized for encroaching on Malaysian waters.

Of the 15 Malaysians arrested, five are MMEA officers, including a high-ranking MMEA officer in Sabah. Another is an officer with the Fisheries Department in Pahang, who is believed to have manipulated documents for the Vietnamese fishing boats. 

“Nine are Malaysians working as agents,” said MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad.

“Results of initial investigations reveal that payments ranged from RM50,000 to RM100,000, and were made by the owners of fishing boats from Vietnam via this Vietnamese woman with the ‘Datuk’ title, and paid to the Malaysian maritime officers and local fishermen.

“Vietnamese fishermen have been encroaching on and fishing in our waters along the coast of Pahang, Terengganu, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan for the past 11 months, and we’ve successfully caught up with the movements of the illegal fishing syndicate,” Dzulkifli told reporters at the MACC office today.

Local fishermen have also been detained for allegedly “renting” their fishing permits to the foreign vessels, said Dzulkifli.

All the suspects were arrested simultaneously yesterday in a major operation conducted in Pahang, Labuan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.

“Further investigations have also led to the seizure of cash amounting to RM1.9 million, believed to be the bribe paid to avoid arrest, or to get the foreign fishing boats released after they were seized.

“We have also frozen 44 bank accounts amounting to RM2 million.”

All suspects are currently in remand. – November 6, 2017.

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