PUTRAJAYA: The remand order for the 680 Chinese nationals who were arrested last month for being allegedly involved in an online investment scam syndicate was today extended for another 14 days.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said the department requested for the extension due to the huge number involved.
"The previous remand order ended yesterday and we sought an extension. The investigation is still ongoing under the Immigration Act," he said during a joint press conference with the Road Transport Department (RTD) today.
Also present was RTD director general Datuk Seri Shaharuddin Khalid.
Khairul said the department had yet to determine if it was a Macau scam.
"We are still investigating to determine that," he said.
On Nov 20, the department had busted the online scam syndicate, arresting up to 680 people, including 77 women, aged between 19 and 35 years old, believed to be Chinese nationals when the raid was conducted at a multilevel building in Cyberjaya.
In the raid at the premises, which was rented at RM360,000 per month, he said Immigration officers also seized 8,230 mobile phones, 174 laptops and 787 personal computers, in accordance with provisions stipulated under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2001 (AMLA).
The director-general also said initial investigation found that all of them stayed here using social visit passes.
Meanwhile Khairul said the department would meet with the Auditor-General's Department soon pertaining to its recent report which said there was no record of exit dates for more than 95 per cent of Chinese and Indian tourists who visited the country between 2016 and 2018.
He explained that the figures may be inaccurate due to technical issues, which reflected on weakness on the current system.
"As I said before, we are now in the midst of developing the Immigration Integrated System to strengthen the enforcement process of the department.
"Apart from that, there are possibilities that these people (Chinese nationals) are long term social pass holders, for instance, spouse of Malaysians, students or maybe expatriates.
"I will study this matter further and meet with the audit department soon," he added.
Yesterday, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he had referred the matter to the Immigration Department for investigation.
While Khairul explained that these figures were inaccurate as the actual number of Chinese tourists who had not left was 18,341 (23 per cent).
According to the audit report, during the 2016-2018 period, out of 79,799 Chinese tourist arrivals, there was no record of 76,258 of them leaving the country.