Sapawi Ahmad Wasali

Probe on umrah fraud under police jurisdiction

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Bernama) -- The investigations of fraudulent umrah packages involving fake agents are under the jurisdiction of the Royal Malaysia Police, said the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (Motac).

Motac, in a written reply to Datuk Sapawi Ahmad Wasali (BN-Sipitang) at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today said this was because such offences were a crime under the Penal Code.

Based on police statistics from 2012 until 2017, it said 296 cases of fraud involving umrah (minor haj) and ziarah (visit) were prosecuted under the Penal Code with an estimated loss of RM11.8 million recorded.

"Whereas Tribunal for Consumer Claims Malaysia (TTPM) statistics on consumer claims relating to umrah and ziarah packages for the same period recorded 3,770 cases of claims with a claim value of RM23.21 million," it said.

The ministry also explained that Motac could only take action against those involved based on existing provisions under Act 482, namely the Tourism Industry Act 1992, including imposing compounds on offenders.

In this regard, investigations and further action have also been taken by the ministry on parties found to work with fraudulent agents especially umrah and ziarah operating agencies that are licensed or unlicensed.

"From 2012 until 2017, the ministry had imposed compounds amounting to RM515,500 on 97 umrah related cases," he said.

For 2017 alone, 18 cases were compounded amounting to RM129,500 for various offences, including collaborating with unlicensed travel agencies, conducting non licensed businesses, opening unlicensed branches, conducting business not in accordance with the license conditions and not making agreements with pilgrims.

Meanwhile in another written answer to Loke Siew Fook (DAP-Seremban), Motac said it conducted integrated enforcement operations with other agencies such as the Immigration Department, Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), Road Transport Department and police to ensure there are no foreign tourist guides in Malaysia,

"The ministry has so far licensed categories of languages such as Malay, English, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish and other languages," it added.