KUALA LUMPUR: The Road Transport Department (JPJ), with the cooperation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confiscated 153 cloned cars worth more than RM13 million in an operation conducted for the past five months.
In the operation, 10 individuals were detained, including three who were middlemen in the syndicate.
According to JPJ director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad, most of the vehicles were luxury cars including MINI Coopers, Lexus, BMW and Mazda which were smuggled in from Singapore to be sold locally at prices ranging from RM20,000 to RM50,000.
"All the cars were confiscated in Terengganu and were categorised as scrap vehicles in the original country. They were smuggled in and they use the same number plates as the original cars of the same make and colour in Malaysia. What differentiates them are only the chassis and engine numbers.
"We believe the smuggled cars either used the number plates of cars which were still used and valid on the road or used the number plates of cars which are categorised as 'total loss'," he told reporters here on Tuesday.
Ismail said the "cloned" cars would then be sold on cash terms after an agreement has been reached with the buyer.
"The value losses suffered by the government due to such activities is estimated at more than RM7 million. We believe there will be more arrests after this and we will continue our operations on a bigger scale," he said.
He said as a long-term solution, the JPJ had developed an integrated system with the insurance companies, to be implemented from June 1.
"The insurance companies are required to register cars which have been declared 'total loss'. This system will ensure that cars which are considered 'total loss' could not be re-registered and the road tax renewed, and so on," he said.
Ismail urged the public who owned "cloned" cars to surrender them to the JPJ or MACC as possession of such vehicles is an offence under the MACC Act and the JPJ Act.
He said it was dangerous to use such cars because there would be no insurance coverage for the vehicle as the documents were false and if owners personally surrendered the vehicles, the department would consider a penalty compared to if the vehicle was detained by enforcement officers.
Meanwhile, MACC's Intelligence Division director Datuk Azam Baki said the modus operandi of the syndicate was to sell the vehicles openly through the Internet.
"Based on intelligence work with the JPJ, it was found that they are now more daringly advertising the sales of such cars on the Internet...and when asked, they would admit that these cars were smuggled and they could prepare the necessary documents to allow car owners to escape enforcement.
"The buyer must be fully aware that the vehicle is illegal since he cannot buy a luxury car at such a cheap price. If found, both the buyer and seller can be charged," he said.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the JPJ said the department would not compromise if any officers were found to be colluding with such syndicates.