GEORGE TOWN: Six people, including the state National Registration Department (NRD) assistant director, were charged in two separate Sessions Courts here today.
They face a total 32 counts for various offences in connection with the issuance and sale of MyKads to foreigners.
Of the remaining five, one is a businessman with a 'Datuk' title while another two are fathers-in-law and sons-in-law.
All six accused were charged under Section 26E of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) Act 2007 while five were also charged under Section 466 of the Penal Code read together with Section 109 of the Penal Code and Regulation 25(1)(i) of the National Registration Regulations 1990 respectively.
No pleas were recorded for charges under the ATIPSOM Act while the five accused claimed trial to charges under the Penal Code and the National Registration Regulations.
Mohd Faizul Arifin, 34, who is the state NRD assistant director, was charged with a total of 11 charges – two under the ATIPSOM Act, four under the Penal Code and five under the National Registration Regulations.
Businessman Datuk Lai Chin Wah, 56, faces five charges - three under the ATIPSOM Act and two under the Penal Code.
Mohd Faizal Tan Abdullah, 66, faces two charges under the ATIPSOM Act while his son-in-law Chien Guan Chai, 36, two charges under the ATIPSOM Act and four charges under the Penal Code.
Loh Chan Cheong, 34, and Yap Cheng Wah, 44, face two charges under the ATIPSOM Act and Penal Code respectively.
All the accused, who were represented, were calm when the charges were read to them before Judges Norsalha Datuk Hamzah and Mazdi Abdul Hamid.
State Prosecution director Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim, who led the team of six Deputy Public Prosecutors, urged the courts to set a mention date for charges framed under the ATIPSOM Act.
Punishment under the APITSOM Act carries a minimum seven years and maximum 15 years imprisonment and fine not less than RM50,000 and not more than RM500,000 or both upon conviction, while a person faces a maximum imprisonment of seven years and a fine under the Penal Code if convicted.
Punishment under the National Registration Regulations carries a maximum three years imprisonment or fine not exceeding RM20,000 or both upon conviction.
Section 466 of the Penal Code is for the forgery of Court records, or public Register of Birth and others while Section 109 is for abetment of the act.
The accused are alleged to have issued and sold fraud birth certificates and MyKads to Chinese nationals as well as abetting in falsifying the two documents.
The documents were issued under the names of Ewe Chor Beng, Tan Xiu Xiu, Lim Hock Eng and Yang Xiaohong.
The offences were allegedly committed at the state NRD headquarters in Jalan Anson here and various parts of George Town between January and May this year.
"As for charges framed under the Penal Code and National Registration Regulations, we urge the courts to set the same date for mention.
"The prosecution also does not offer bail," Yusaini Amer told the court.
Sukhiderpal Singh, who represented Faizul and Lee Kean Wooi, who represented Loh and Yap, appealed for bail for their clients, pointing to family commitments.
"The bail is just to secure the accused’s presence in courts. We are also willing to meet any additional conditions set by the courts in the event bail is granted," Lee said.
Both Norsalha and Mazdi denied bail and set Sept 18 for mention.
Before being led out of court, a dishevelled Lai was seen holding the hands of a young man, believed to be his son, with both men trying to hold back tears.
Earlier, the six accused arrived at the court complex just before 9am in a police van.
It was reported that police arrested 20 people, aged between 32 and 70, on Aug 19, including the state NRD assistant director, in a special operation on suspicion of being involved in the issuance and sale of personal identification documents to Chinese nationals.
Others nabbed were 17 locals, two Chinese nationals and an Indian citizen.
They acted as agents, middlemen, sponsors and holders of the fake birth certificates, MyKads and passports.
Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed said investigation revealed that the syndicate's agents would hunt for foreigners seeking citizenships, and were believed they were paid between RM100,000 and RM600,000.
Following their arrests, they were remanded for 28 days for investigations under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma.
Yesterday, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Latheefa Koya said they would investigate once they received information on the matter.