GRAFT-BUSTERS have frozen a whopping RM150 million, believed to have been swindled by several senior civil servants allegedly working hand -in-glove with companies to steal from government funds meant for the underprivileged. (File pix)

GRAFT-BUSTERS have frozen a whopping RM150 million, believed to have been swindled by several senior civil servants allegedly working hand -in-glove with companies to steal from government funds meant for the underprivileged.

Investigators from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), who are going deeper into the case, yesterday carried out a series of raids on the companies involved to gather more forensic evidence.

The movements of the corrupt public servants were also being watched closely.

A source close to the investigations told the New Straits Times that since they started the racket a few years ago, some of them had moved on to other government agencies.

“Some are serving the same post from when they started dipping their fingers into the government’s coffers.

“They will all be rounded up very soon,” the source said.

MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki, when asked about the case, confirmed the probes, but said he could not divulge details.

The NST yesterday front-paged a report that the commission was on the case of corrupt senior officials of a ministry in a particular state, who had been in cahoots with several companies to siphon off money from projects and programmes meant for the underprivileged.

Sources had told this newspaper that the probe, triggered by Bank Negara Malaysia’s Suspicious Transaction Report alert system and public tip-offs, revealed that those within the corrupt network had allegedly pocketed no less than RM100 million.

The projects were valued at between RM500 million and close to RM1 billion. Among the projects that they had a say in the implementation included food programmes for poor students and initiatives that would provide those in the rural areas basic amenities, including water and electricity, as well as roads.

Azam told the NST yesterday that the commission was going aggressively after the corrupt stealing from the poor.

This is the other element of MACC’s already extensive focus in eradicating corrupt practices and abuse of power, and is built on two main thrusts.

“That ‘the voice of the poor and underprivileged is often weak’ and ‘denying the group what is rightfully theirs is the greatest of travesties’,” said Azam.

He said the commission had, in recent months, been dealing with many cases that involved the swindling of funds set aside for the benefit of the group.

“This includes abuse of power and graft, including civil servants in decision-making positions colluding with the corrupt from the private sector to line their own pockets,” he said.

Azam said their modus operandi would, more often than not, involve the falsification of documents to indicate that planned projects had been carried out, when they were not. Another “popular” method applied by these crooked individuals was to make “cutbacks”.

“They put on paper that the cost is RM10 million, for instance, but they cut here and there and pocket the difference.

“They manipulate the numbers and as a result of this, a lot of areas are compromised, including scaling back on the volume or number, or quality,” he said, adding that among the commission’s focus in its war against corruption was to plug leakages in the government’s coffers. Additional reporting by Alia Mior

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