Customs officers rake in fortune helping smugglers

Customs officers rake in fortune helping smugglers
Peddlers offering contraband cigarettes on the streets near the Lahad Datu market. An officer formerly with the Customs Department says smugglers have ways and means to counter any attempts to curb their activities.

MALAYSIA - A former Customs officer used to rake in a fortune every month, allegedly by helping smugglers bring in contraband cigarettes.

The 34-year-old was attached to the Customs and Immigration Quarantine Complex in Johor, and now operates a car accessories shop.

 

Kamil Ahmad (not his real name), resigned in 2010 after he got wind that internal affairs officers were investigating his alleged involvement with smugglers.

He said smugglers were always on top of things, and had, so far countered any measures taken by the authorities to clamp down on their operations.

He said they could do this because they allegedly had informers from within the department.

Kamil claimed that planning for an operation was kept on a need-to-know basis. Intel is not shared with the ground staff until the 11th hour.

And, yet, the batting average for the raiding teams is quite low.

Officers on the take are usually given RM30,000 (S$11,600) for every container that passes through without being stopped.

Fully loaded, the containers are worth an estimated RM2.4 million.

For every 10 containers that go "unmolested" in a month, the officers involved would receive bonuses.

Sometimes, it is in the form of monetary rewards. Often, it is by giving them tip-offs allowing them to raid certain shipments, usually belonging to a competitor.

Kamil said most officers didn't mind cigarettes, but did not get involved in drugs smuggling.

He also said the money received was never banked into their accounts. They are given ATM cards which they use to make withdrawals from.

Kamil said after tendering his resignation, he attempted to empty the account.

"I don't think my resignation letter had even reached our headquarters in Putrajaya before word that I left reached the smugglers.

"I had RM3,336 in the account, but the ATM card was already reported stolen."

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