Ten luxury cars seized. 200 bank accounts frozen and RM4 billion (S$1.57 billion) in lost revenue.
Those are some of the startling details that emerged after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) busted what it calls "the biggest scandal involving civil servants the country has seen."
The investigation began three years ago, New Straits Times reported.
Among the 24 remanded are two high-ranking Customs officers, who carry the title Datuk, and 10 others of various ranks from the department, aged between 36 and 56.
MOST IN KLANG VALLEY
Others remanded are company owners, agents and lorry drivers, the report said.
The Customs director, who was arrested in Ipoh, Perak, had just served in the state for a year, following a stint as director in a southern state. The rest were picked up from various locations in the Klang Valley.
These men allegedly left a long money trail that allowed investigators to blow the lid on their illicit operations.
"Their lavish lifestyle was what gave them away. They couldn't have been more blatant in displaying their ill-gotten wealth," the report quoted one of the investigators as saying.
At the MACC office in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, the graft-busters unveiled the collection of seized luxury cars, including a Porsche, several Audis and Mercedes.
MACC deputy chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull said the syndicate smuggled high quality liquor and cigarettes out of the duty-free zone in Port Klang.
He added that those involved carried out their transactions in cash.
Giving a rough indication of the extent of the illicit activities, Mr Shukri said: "RM1.67 billion worth of cigarettes and alcohol were brought into the country under their watch since 2011... but from that amount, only a total value of RM420 million was declared.
"Investigations showed that the goods had been brought in from Scotland, Sweden, Indonesia, Thailand, China, India and Cambodia."
He said the amount could be a mere tip of the iceberg because the estimated losses calculated were a result of investigations into just 10 of 70 companies that operate in the Port Klang Free Zone.
Said Mr Shukri: "The Customs Department and the Inland Revenue Board are crunching the numbers to identify exactly how much the government lost to this syndicate."
Those arrested have been remanded till Sept 10.
This article was first published on September 6, 2014.
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