The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) says that it is actively pursuing syndicates involved in cloned vehicles. Its deputy chief commissioner of operations, Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdul said that the commission has been cooperating closely with the Road Transport Department (JPJ) after cloned vehicles were first discovered two years ago, The Star reports.

“We opened 34 investigation papers between 2012 and 2015, as we suspected there were elements of corruption in the cloned vehicle syndicates,” the deputy commissioner said. He disclosed that 21 people have since been arrested, while 56 cloned cars have been seized.

Under Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009 and the Penal Code, those involved or in possession of cloned vehicles can be investigated for falsifying documents. Upon conviction, individuals can be jailed for not less than 20 years, along with a fine.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has warned against buying these cloned cars, stating that it was against the law. “If it is too good to be true, it probably is,” said MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad. She added that said cars would face issues when it comes to the renewing road tax and obtaining insurance coverage.

On that note, proposals by the JPJ to implement a vehicle ownership certificate system to replace the current registration card system from April 1, 2016, was well-received by the MAA. “The new system will allow car owners to check online on vehicle details. This will make it difficult for cars to be cloned,” she explained.

As for moves to tackle the issue, an embedded smartcode radio frequency identification tag in road tax stickers is being mulled by the JPJ to weed out cloned cars. Another method that is being explored is that of utilising the Vehicle Entry Permit, which is reportedly due be introduced by the middle of 2016. Similarly, the JPJ has set up a special 25-member squad that can spot these vehicles by just looking at them.

Cloned cars are usually foreign vehicles that appear as Malaysian-registered vehicles using identical number plates taken from a similar legitimately-registered model. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cloned cars are still on the road, and it is said the government is losing over RM100 million in tax revenue due to this.