Report: Politically-linked Bangladeshi ‘Datuk’ pocketed RM2b via people smuggling

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin


The bilateral agreement signed in 2016 ensured that only 10 firms, some of which were just shell companies, were allowed to recruit workers from Bangladesh, sidelining over existing 1,500 agents. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — A Bangladeshi businessman with the title of “Datuk Seri” allegedly made RM2 billion over two years by tapping links with the Home Ministry to run a syndicate purportedly trafficking in his compatriots.

According to The Star newspaper today, sources alleged the businessman in his 40s had political connections with the Home Ministry and the Bangladeshi government, and played a role in getting a bilateral agreement signed in 2016.

The Home Ministry had been under Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi up until the 14th general election.

The agreement ensured that only 10 firms, some of which were just shell companies, were allowed to recruit workers from Bangladesh, sidelining over existing 1,500 agents.

Each worker handled by these “legalised” human trafficking companies were required to pay RM20,000 as fees to local agents, half of which would be used to pay syndicate members locally here.

The RM20,000 price tag still exists despite the costs for documentation and transporting these workers hovering around only RM2,000 a person.

The daily claimed that since late 2016, over 100,000 Bangladeshi workers have been brought into the country under this system, with another 100,000 waiting in line.

The report also alleged the aforementioned Datuk Seri kicked back some of his profit to politicians and government officials from both countries, and had even set up online registration systems for foreign workers.

The Pakatan Harapan government recently terminated the services of several firms performing such registrations.

According to the paper, the Datuk Seri is believed to have helped set up the Sistem Perkhidmatan Pekerja Asing (SPPA), the only registration system that can be used to hire Bangladeshis officially.

“It as an attempt to grease a well-oiled money-making scheme to exploit Bangladeshi workers,” the source was quoted saying.

The report stated the SPPA system was operated by a company that also charged RM305 for each foreign worker who is successfully recruited.

The firm was also behind the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS), currently used by the Immigration Department.

The source added that migrant workers from the other countries only needed to pay some RM2,500 to be hired in Malaysia.