Suspecting that his Sydney bank account held laundered money or funds from a crime, the Australian Federal Police suspended the account of one of Malaysia’s highest ranking police officers amounting to more than $320,000.
The officer is Wan Ahmad Najmuddin bin Mohd, now Malaysia’s criminal investigations department head. He opened a Commonwealth Bank “Goal Saver” account in 2011, and listed his address at Bankstown and then Glebe in Sydney.
What alerted Australian officials was the fact that a mere week after the decorated public official concluded his Australian trip in 2016, his bank account in the country received a series of suspicious cash deposits.
Australian official said they found out that unknown depositors visited branches and ATMS around the country from Biloela in country Queensland to Devonport in northern Tasmania to Lakemba in Sydney’s west and Melbourne’s CBD.
The account balance quickly grew by almost $290,000 in a month, majority of which were in structured deposits below $10,000. Such are above the threshold which law enforcement agencies receive mandatory notifications for possible cases of money laundering where the funds may come from illegal sources.
Strangely, for such a big amount of money, Najmuddin has not attempted to get his money back. He argues that if he pursues court action, it will be too expensive. He has, however, denied any wrongdoing related to his bank account in Sydney.
Najmuddin added that his department has already written a letter to the AFP to give his explanation for the account. The freezing and forfeiture applications to the NSW Supreme Court was based solely on the structured deposits. It did not explore, much more conclude, that Najmuddin was involved in criminal activities- at least for now.
Najmuddin said the money in his account was meant to finance his daughter’s master’s degree. He said he requested a close friend in Malaysia to transfer the money.
The Malaysian police, meanwhile, has cleared Najmuddin of any wrongdoing after conducting an internal probe. AFP first alerted them.
Najmuddin was head of police inn Johor state and a frequent traveler to Australia when suspicious deposits were first noticed.
Najmuddin has visited Australia nine times since 2001, always on a tourist visa. Sometimes, he is loaded with cash.
As director of the criminal investigation department, Najmuddin tackles everything from illegal gambling and murder to insults against the Prime Minister.
A spokeswoman said AFP considered whether account holder “should have had a reasonable suspicion that some criminality existed.”
Regardless of whether he wants his account’s deposits or not, Najmuddin’s case appears not to be over yet. Authorities have also not given a full account of the case yet.
Criminal groups exploiting international transactions outside the traditional banking system is increasing. At times syndicates hijack legitimate transfers, replacing clean money with dirty to both pay for crimes and wash profits.
The AFP received criticisms from its former lawyer “for going after the unwitting recipients of criminal proceeds, while the criminals themselves walk free.”