Singaporean woman in car-cloning syndicate arrested

JOHOR BARU - A car-cloning syndicate which has been operating for some time here has been busted with the arrest of a Singaporean housewife.

The suspect, in her 20s and married to a Malaysian, was caught on Jan 20 at around 3pm at her house in Taman Laguna near Danga Bay here.

State Customs Department director Datuk Ramli Johari said the suspect was believed to be involved in running the syndicate, which brought in scrapped vehicles from Singapore.

"We are now looking for her husband to assist us in the investigations.

"He is a Malaysian working in Singapore," he told reporters after attending the state-level Worlds Customs Day celebration here yesterday.

Ramli said Customs enforcement officers also seized three Singapore-registered cars parked in the compound of the suspect's house.

He said that following the arrest, they discovered another 23 Singapore-registered cars parked along the roadside in the same housing estate that day.

Ramli said the seized cars during the operation on the day included Mercedes Benz Brabus, Toyota Lexus, Toyota Alphard, Honda Integra, Mazda 5, Toyota Estima and Nissan Silvia models, worth a total of RM2.9mil (S$993,000) including RM1.8mil in unpaid taxes.

The scrapped cars could be sold three times cheaper to local buyers than the market value of approved imported models, he said.

Ramli said initial investigations showed that the seized cars were already de-registered in the republic but had valid road tax for syndicate members to smuggle them out of Singapore into the country.

The Star front-paged reports on Jan 14 of high-end cars sold as scrap in Singapore being brought into Malaysia and then sold at much lower prices to Malaysians.

While the syndicates rake in the money, the Government is losing millions of ringgit in unpaid duties.

The trade in scrapped luxury cars is thriving as they are sold with forged papers.

A scrapped vehicle can be made to assume the identity of a Malaysia-registered car with forged documentation.