KOTA KINABALU: Another suspect was detained today in connection with the Immigration Department’s recent seizure of RM13.5 million in cash, the source of which still puzzles investigators.
The arrest of the 46-year-old woman, who is the wife of the main suspect detained earlier in the case, brought the total number of people detained to 21, which includes 17 Filipinas and three men, believed to be victims of human trafficking.
On Friday, the department, acting on a tip-off, had raided a hotel spa in what it believed was a vice and human trafficking case.
But officers were shocked to find the huge amount of cash stashed there and in a nearby apartment.
The woman nabbed today is the owner of the apartment where some of the cash was found.
Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali said his department would work with other agencies to investigate the case.
“Based on initial investigations, we think the cash is related to prostitution and human trafficking, but we will be investigating this further,” he told reporters today.
“The spa in the hotel we raided had been in operation since 1999. Some of the cash seized was mouldy, in packages marked with the year 2008.
“The premises had also been renovated without a permit and its emergency route was used as a rest area.”
Based on the statements of the 17 Filipinas detained at the premises, he said the department did not discount the possibility that vice activities occurred there.
“The three men, including a Filipino, detained are suspected to be the masterminds in the immoral activities taking place there,” Mustafar added.
Apart from the Immigration Act, the director said the case is being investigated under the Penal Code and Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
When asked whether the cash was related to any politicians or political groups, Mustafar declined to comment.
The cash seizure is the biggest in the history of the Immigration Department.