PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) celebrates its 55th anniversary this year with the theme “Amanah, Tegas dan Adil” (Trustworthy, Firm and Fair), highlighting many success stories of uncovering white-collar crimes and high-profile cases.
MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki said the theme was also in line with the agency’s approach to handling high-profile cases involving people in positions of power or high-ranking individuals.
Azam said of the 292 corruption cases that were tried in 2021, including high-profile ones, 91.1% or 266 cases ended in conviction.
“This is a success because it exceeds the 90% corruption conviction rate set in the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) 2019-2023. In terms of asset recovery, last year, the total amount of assets that were forfeited and returned to the government was RM5.1 billion, 99.57% of which was from the 1MDB case.
“Investigations into the cases were very challenging because of the many constraints we faced from various aspects.
“But the success – right from the investigations to the prosecution stage – proves the MACC’s capability and ability in handling high-profile and complex cases are not only recognised in this country but also at the international level,” he said in conjunction with MACC’s 55th anniversary today.
Azam said besides the 1MDB and SRC International cases, the Op Water corruption scandal was also among the great achievements for MACC, which recorded the largest seizure involving cash, luxury vehicles and jewellery worth millions of ringgit.
According to Azam, the collaboration between MACC’s Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy (MACA), and Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom, to produce trained staff, has also borne fruit.
He said at the first convocation ceremony on Sept 8, a total of 266 MACA graduates received their scrolls and certificates of study from Nottingham Trent University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Prof Cillian Ryan.
“The MACC top management collaborated with Nottingham Trent University in 2017 after obtaining federal government approval to develop a professional standard basic course module for MACC officers, encompassing an investigation module, intelligence module, a prosecution and legal module, a professional practice module, and a leadership module.
“In terms of enforcement, the existing technique needs to be improved. Employees need to gain more knowledge on this. We cannot be left behind in technology, development or modus operandi of criminals,” he added.
Azam said in the next five years there would be changes in technology, hence making corruption cases becoming more sophisticated.
“Even now, bribes are being paid using cryptocurrency. It’s hard to detect, I have to admit. MACC and Bank Negara Malaysia are still looking into ways to detect bribe payments through the virtual world.
“As such, enforcement activities need to go in tandem with changing times and technology,” he said.
Azam also said that MACC’s predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Agency, had waited for information and complaints before conducting investigations.
“But after the year 2000, we started using intelligence and undercover methods to expose corruption cases. It has expanded with the use of Intelligence-Based Investigations (IBI).
“This method is proactive and can be used for high profile cases where deep analysis is carried out on subjects before investigations commence. With deep analysis, the identification of high profile corrupt individuals can be confirmed,” he added.
Azam said the IBI method helped MACC to uncover the misappropriation of the SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million and infrastructure project funds totalling RM3.3 billion under Op Water as well as cases of electricity theft involving Bitcoin syndicates that caused losses of up to RM2.3 billion between 2018 and 2021 through Op Power.
He added that each operation has a significant impact, not only on the community but also on the agencies involved, where prevention goes hand in hand with enforcement.
“To ensure that the issues at hand can be tackled comprehensively, after carrying enforcement in terms of investigations and arrests, the MACC also takes proactive measures by providing advisory services and recommendations to the agencies involved to eliminate opportunities for corruption to occur for the purpose of improving governance,” he said.
Azam said between Jan 2020 and August this year, a total of 2,553 individuals were arrested while a total of 1,313 charges involving corruption cases were framed.
“These numbers indirectly give the impression that MACC is very active in carrying out operations to fight corruption in this country,” he said.
Meanwhile, on a proposal for the MACC chief commissioner to be given the power to prosecute, Azam said that was not necessary.
“Our duty is to investigate and bring the investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC). The AGC will decide if they wish to take the case to court,” he added.