Federal police revealed today that fugitive businessman Datuk Seri Nicky Liow Soon Hee, who is wanted for multiple money laundering and commercial crimes cases, was found to have ties with known convicted Chinese triad boss Wan Kuok-koi.
In a targeted crackdown on Liow’s organised crime syndicate, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said a total of 70 police raids — conducted by a task force comprising some 220 police personnel took place nationwide between March 20 and March 28 which resulted in the arrest of 68 individuals.
“The special operation (against Liow’s syndicate) was launched following a tip-off obtained mid-January this year by the Johor Commercial Crime Investigations Department after a previous operation involving Macau Scam investigations.
“Intelligence gathering by the task force revealed that Liow, who is the founder of Winner Dynasty Group, has alleged ties with transnational organised crime leader known as Wan Kouk-koi @ Broken Tooth,” he said during a press conference at Bukit Aman here.
Wan, also widely known as “Broken Tooth Koi”, rose to infamy amid a surge of gang violence in the gambling enclave of Macau in the late 1990s.
He was subsequently arrested — at the time he was the head of Macau branch of the Hong Kong-based 14K Triad organised-crime group and founder of the World Hongmen History and Culture Association.
Wan had spent 14 years in prison for triad membership and money laundering, among other crimes before he was released in December 2012.
He is rumoured to be based in Cambodia presently and reportedly has been involved in illicit gambling and drug activities.
In December last year, the United States Treasury Department blacklisted and imposed sanctions on Wan’s World Hongmen History and Culture Association for anti-corruption purposes, which officials said was an effort by the 14K Triad to legitimise itself.
Abdul Hamid said investigators also discovered that Wan had appointed Liow as vice president of the World Hongmen History and Culture Association in January 2019.
Further investigations revealed that multiple Macau Scam transactions were all traced back to shell companies linked to the aforementioned association.
Touching on the modus operandi, Abdul Hamid said the syndicate would target investors from China by promising them huge returns through investments in cryptocurrency, real estate and the foreign exchange market.
Abdul Hamid said it was speculated that Liow’s net worth amounted to some RM1 billion in company assets and illegal proceeds.
While Liow has thus far managed to evade capture from the authorities, Abdul Hamid assured that this will change soon and Liow would face the full brunt of the law since most of the latter’s criminal syndicate were in tatters following the mass arrests and seizures conducted.
On the raids, Abdul Hamid said a total of 68 individuals were arrested with various seizures of foreign currencies and luxury vehicles including confiscation of a firearm.
Of the 68 nabbed, eight of them held ‘Datuk’ and ‘Datuk Seri’ titles including Liow’s own brother.
In addition, 48 of the suspects are currently detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma).
According to Abdul Hamid, the estimated sum of money seized amounted to some RM773,145 and luxury vehicles valued at RM6.67 million in total. Police also managed to freeze 41 bank accounts believed to be used to channel funds for illicit purposes.
He also revealed a total of 34 individuals from various law enforcement and government agencies were in cahoots with Liow, before promising stern action would be taken against them at the soonest.
“One of the officers involved had leaked information to Liow, thus providing the suspect ample time to transfer a large sum of his wealth to an undisclosed location,” he added.
The top cop said such police measures were necessary to convince the public that the authorities are serious in their duty to combat money laundering and organised crime, especially for an individual as prominent as Liow.
“There have been many criticisms against the police on their inaction against such blatant criminal activities and this gives a bad impression for someone as prominent as Liow who seemed to be allowed to do as he pleased without any repercussion.
“I would like to stress again, our measures to curb said criminal activities will only intensify further and I vow that this case will be investigated to its fullest extent,” he said.
Liow was previously arrested for assaulting two People’s Volunteer Corp (Rela) members who were on duty at the Kou Ong Yah temple in Kuala Lumpur about four years ago.
He was later acquitted and discharged.