The syndicate earns huge profits from the extortion scheme
An extortion syndicate, led by a Bangladeshi businessman with alleged political connections to the Home Ministry, has amassed about RM2 billion (Malaysian ringitt). The profit was collected in just two years, from Bangladeshi workers seeking jobs in Malaysia.
An investigation revealed that the workers paid RM20,000, each, to their local agents. The agents then paid half of the sum to the syndicate—to facilitate work permit approvals and flight tickets to Malaysia, reports Star Online.
Under the system, more than 100,000 Bangladeshi workers have gone to Malaysia since late 2016, and more than 100,000 are waiting for their turn to go.
According to the investigation, the businessman was the mastermind behind the organized and “legalised” multibillion-ringgit extortion scam.
Due to his strong political influence in both Malaysia and Bangladesh, the businessman was also instrumental in getting the two countries to sign a government-to-government agreement in 2016— giving only 10 companies from Bangladesh the right to recruit migrant workers for Malaysia.
Additionally, according to a source, some of the 10 authorised agents were untrustworthy companies created solely to earn money by playing middleman between the workers and their prospective employers in Malaysia.
To facilitate the smooth operation of the system, and secure the interest of the 10 companies, he also set up a new online registration system named Sistem Perkhidmatan Pekerja Asing (SPPA), used to hire Bangladeshi workers.
Employers are required to pay RM305 for each worker hired from Bangladesh under SPPA, which is operated by a private company called Bestinet Sdn Bhd.
The money collected under SPPA goes to Bestinet as a service charge for the distribution of the workers to their employers via the 10 companies, said the source.
Prior to setting up SPPA, the cost of hiring Bangladeshi workers was much lower, said Chirara Kannan, owner of a consultancy service for several employers in the Klang Valley.
He said in the past, the workers only paid between RM7,000 and RM8,000 each.
However, Bangladeshi workers now have to pay off numerous middlemen.
Chirara said workers paid the RM20,000 to “sub agents” from their villages, who had to go through at least two more middlemen before they were connected to the local agents appointed by the Bangladesh government.
Some employers even solicited commissions from the agents after realising that the workers were paying an exorbitant amount of money to work in Malaysia.
Some of the employers receive up to RM1,500 in commissions for each Bangladeshi worker they hire, said Chirara.
$1 is equal to RM4.01