The Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor. The Customs Department is investigating if the release of military equipment from the port followed standard operating procedures. (File pix)

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will call up five top management officials of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) in Johor over the release of a container with high-tech military radar equipment without following proper procedures.

The New Straits Times has learnt that the graft-busters have obtained solid information that somebody authorised the consignment to be released to the Netherlands without getting clearance from the Customs Department.

“Based on initial investigations, we will call five witnesses (from PTP) to assist with investigations.

“We discovered that somebody had authorised the consignment to be released to the Netherlands without any order from the Customs Department.

“We have confirmation that Customs had told them to hold on to the items first, but they released the items without getting authorisation from the department,” a source told the NST yesterday.

The source said MACC was looking into the case, focusing on who had been involved in releasing the consignment to its final destination.

He said these people would be called up, adding that MACC had gathered documents relating to the matter.

The source said MACC was working with Customs and the police on the case.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Azam Baki confirmed this, saying that the commission would call up at least four of the witnesses today.

He said MACC would also
interview officers from the Customs Department, and individuals from the vendors and companies involved in the consignment.

“We have just started investigations, so there is no conclusion just yet,” he told the NST.

The military equipment, worth millions of ringgit, was detained by the port authorities because it did not have permits.

All military equipment being shipped out of, or in transit at any Malaysian port, requires a special permit from the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

It is learnt that during a recent audit check, the classified military equipment could not be located at the port and a report was lodged.

On Thursday, Customs director-general Datuk T. Subromaniam said the shipment was not missing as reported and had reached its Rotterdam Port destination in the Netherlands.

He said they were carrying out an internal investigation to see if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) under the Strategic Trade Act were followed when releasing the goods.

Yesterday, Azam said the commission had also been alerted to other issues which needed to be investigated.

“Many had lodged reports on the port itself. We will also look into the port’s SOPs involving confiscation of items and how the SOPs could lead to items in (the port’s) possession to disappear,” he told the NST.

Port management welcomes MACC probe into case

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has sent an investigation team to the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) to probe into an alleged disappearance of a shipping cargo container with high-tech military equipment.

The commission said the action was taken after it received a report on the matter.

“Following the report, a MACC team has been sent to the location to gather information on the case before action can be taken. The team will evaluate the information to determine whether there are elements of corruption or abuse of power in this incident,” it said in a statement yesterday.

The commission said it would cooperate with police, who have also initiated an investigation into the case, but its own probe would focus only on elements of corruption and abuse of power, and would not interfere with the police investigation.

Johor Port Authority (JPA), which manages PTP and the Johor Port in Pasir Gudang, said it welcomed the move by MACC to investigate whether there was any element of graft in the case.

JPA general manager Muhammad Razif Ahmad said MACC should be allowed to carry out its investigation.

“We have no problem with MACC’s move since other agencies, like the police, are also conducting their own investigation.

“Hopefully, once the investigation is completed and if no offence is found to have been committed, PTP’s name would be cleared.”

Razif said JPA had conducted an internal inquiry following the case, and had found no element of corruption or abuse of power in the case.

“We have also identified areas in the port’s standard operating procedures that can be improved.

“We welcome any suggestions from these agencies that could boost the port’s operations.”