Alleged theft by MACC officers: Commissioner has ‘failed’, agency needs a revamp, says criminologist

Criminologist Datuk Dr P. Sundramoorthy says Datuk Seri Azam Baki has failed as Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner.

The Universiti Sains Malaysia honorary associate professor (criminology) also called for a revamp of the anti-graft agency.

This comes after revelations on Monday that three MACC officers had allegedly stolen an undisclosed amount from the US$6 million (RM25 million) that had been seized in another case.

Sundramoorthy said the failure by the MACC to report the incident to the police was in violation of standard operating procedures (SOP).

“Generally, the SOP for government agencies is that when there is a criminal element involved, it must be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency,” said Sundramoorthy.

“The minute Azam knew about the case, he should have filed a police report. The fact that he didn’t, is a failure on his part.”

Sundramoorthy added MACC should not investigate the case as it was outside its jurisdiction.

“There is no excuse. The commissioner should be held accountable for not adhering to the SOP,” he said.

“While the MACC has the right to conduct an internal investigation, it must not interfere with the one by the police.”

He called for a revamp in the MACC’s hiring process, especially in selecting its commissioner, and suggested that the commissioner be answerable only to Parliament.

“MACC should be independent of the Prime Minister’s Department. We have to review the hiring practices, recruit high-calibre officers that don’t have issues with regard to ethics and integrity.”

The training for lower and senior staff should also be relooked.

“We need checks and balances inside the system, and to closely monitor the finances of the officers. The people investigating graft must be of high calibre. There’s no room for error.”

The anti-graft body, in a statement on Monday, said three of its officers were detained following allegations of abuse of power and malpractice in a case involving a former department head. The three were remanded from Sept 14 to 19.

The ex-senior official has been discharged but not acquitted by the court.

A recent blog posting that was widely shared over the weekend revealed the former senior civil servant had demanded for the seized cash to be returned. However, she later realised that only some of the cash was available, while the rest were allegedly counterfeit notes.

Bukit Aman CID director, Comm Datuk Seri Abd Jalil Hassan, in a statement, said police did not receive any reports on the matter.

Sundramoorthy was also perplexed as to how the MACC officers had gotten their hands on the money.

“What happened to the chain of evidence? Didn’t anyone notice anything amiss? We are talking about a lot of money here,” he added.

“There is a trust deficit, as not only MACC officers, but also police officers, have been making the news for the wrong reasons.”