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KUALA LUMPUR: Bestinet Sdn Bhd, which is at the centre of claims that over RM185 million was milked from Nepalis seeking work in Malaysia over the past five years, has denied the allegation.

In a press statement released today, the company said the article in Nepali Times on June 20 titled “Kleptocrats of Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur”, was “entirely false”.

“Bestinet is committed to conducting its business in a responsible manner and does not engage in unethical business practice. The company’s goal is to be a positive presence in the markets in which it operates in and affirms its commitment to its code of business conduct and ethics.

“Bestinet refutes and emphatically denies the allegations contained in the article,” the statement read.

It also made clear that Datuk Sri Mohd Amin Abdul Nor, founder and chairman of Bestinet, was not the brother-in-law of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. It said Zahid’s brother Datuk Abdul Hakim Hamidi was also not a shareholder of the company while (former Home Minister) Tan Sri Azmi Khalid was never a shareholder of Bestinet and resigned as director in January 2017.

“In fact, no one in Bestinet is related to Zahid.”

According to the Nepali Times article, the money made by Nepali businessmen and officials over the years came from fees for visas and biometric screening involving Nepali companies affiliated to Bestinet.

It claimed that Bestinet - which developed a foreign worker system for the Immigration Department, was linked to Zahid and several Umno politicians as well as Bangladesh middlemen who made huge profits from Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Among those named in the article included Zahid, Mohd Amin and Azmi.

In its statement, Bestinet said the company was only a service provider for the Bio-medical system while the Biometric screening mentioned in the article was one of the modules of Bestinet’s own pioneering and award-winning Foreign Workers Centralized Management System (FWCMS).

It said FWCMS was a holistic foreign workers management system developed specifically for governments and was recently recognised by UN-based World Summit Awards as one of the world’s 40 best digital projects that help meet the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“The idea of FWCMS was first presented to the Malaysian government in 2004, the government reviewed the proposal in 2011 and approved the implementation of the system under a Proof-of-Concept (POC) basis in 2012, before Zahid became the Minister of Home Affairs.

“The system allows medical tests to be carried out and results uploaded online in real time, including registration of workers demographic and biometric data. Workers’ attendance and eligibility verification are also done real time with the Malaysian Immigration core system,” it said.

The company said the Bio-medical screening was a mandatory process for all workers coming into Malaysia, and not just Nepali workers as was alleged in the article.

It said the module protected Malaysians from diseases that might be brought in, while at the same time looked after the the welfare of foreign workers by ensuring they do not undertake the journey to Malaysia in vain if they are unfit.

“It is important to understand that the implementation of the Bio-Medical system benefits both employers and workers as previously around 25 per cent to 30 per cent of applications were rejected during attendance eligibility verification which was performed manually and could take up to three months to complete.

“This translated into a high cost for workers who would not be able to retrieve the money paid to agents and medical screening, whereas employers lost valuable time and had to reapply to make up for the failed applications.

“The manual system also left room for abuse and corruption,” it said, adding the bio-medical module had been implemented in more

than 200 medical centres across 12 labour source countries that deliver workers to Malaysia.

It said the system was fully automated and could not be manipulated to issue forged reports.

The company also clarified that there were 37 medical centres in Nepal accredited to perform the bio-medical screening, and that these were identified, audited and selected based on their capabilities and medical facilities available, which allowed medical results to be integrated and uploaded to the system in real time.

Bestinet said that it was however not involved in providing the ISC (Immigration Security Clearance), VLN (Visa Luar Negara), OSC (One Stop Centre) services.

“Hence the allegations made that Bestinet has been charging migrant worker for scanning passports, fingerprinting and uploading the data online are entirely false.

“We welcome the government’s intention to set up a committee to conduct a thorough review into all systems and service providers related to the recruitment and management of foreign workers and we look forward to providing our full support.”

The company also ht out at local media which had repeated the Nepali Times article without getting a response from Bestinet.

“The publication and the reporters who authored the articled failed to abide by the Media Code of Ethics and made very little effort to find out the truth, choosing instead to publish untruth and misleading allegations against Bestinet.

“The actions, which were highly defamatory and affect the company’s reputation, have been carried out without any attempt to clarify with us. Bestinet is demanding that an immediate apology, a retraction and a correction be issued by the Nepali Times.

“Bestinet takes these allegations very seriously and reserves the right to take all necessary steps against Nepali Times and authors of the article,” it said.

(File pix) Bestinet Sdn Bhd, which is at the centre of claims that over RM185 million was milked from Nepalis seeking work in Malaysia over the past five years, has denied the allegation.

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