Stolen rare earth elements: MACC calls up several people

14 Feb 2023 08:04pm

ALOR SETAR - The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has called up six parties to assist in investigations into the issue of theft of rare earth elements (REE) in the Bukit Enggang Forest Reserve (HSK), Sik.

Kedah MACC director Datuk Shaharom Nizam Abd Manap, however, refused to divulge the identities of those called up as investigations are still ongoing.

"We started our investigations when we received information regarding the case. The MACC has carried out preliminary action by interviewing five to six parties to assist in investigations into the REE.

"For now, we are unable to announce the results and have no decision or proposal to give to the state government,” he said when asked about the progress on the theft of REE in Bukit Enggang Forest Reserve in Sik.

He said the Kedah state REE Monitoring Committee also held a meeting last week to discuss the REE-related issues and expects to get feedback from every agency that may be involved in the matter on Monday (Feb 20).

"When the REE issue cropped up, the MACC had suggested to the State Secretary (SUK) to activate the committee together with the Integrity and Governance Committee (JITU) by calling up relevant agencies for action and discussion.

"Among the agencies identified are the Forestry Department, the Mineral and Geoscience Department, the Department of Environment, Syarikat Air Darul Aman (SADA) and perhaps a few more agencies may be added after this,” he said.

The media recently reported that 52 individuals were arrested by the Kedah state Forestry Department after they were believed to have carried out illegal REE exploration activities in the forest reserve.

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In another development, Shaharom Nizam said they have not found any criminal elements in their investigation into the alleged embezzlement of economic stimulus package aid funds linked to a Kedah state executive councillor previously.

"... We have forwarded proposals to the state government to make improvements in the procedures related to the delivery of the aid. Investigation into the case has been completed,” he said when met at his retirement ceremony.

Shaharom Nizam, who started working in the MACC in 1992, will go on compulsory retirement tomorrow after serving for over 30 years. - BERNAMA