Nine companies have been blacklisted for allegedly misappropriating approved permits for the import and sale of motor vehicles, The Sun Daily reported. Some 50 firms in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have been audited, as well as 10 companies in Sabah, Sarawak and Johor, and five in Penang, deputy international trade and industry minister Ong Kian Ming told the Dewan Rakyat.

On-site visits and compliance audits were carried out between September 2018 and September 2019, Ong said in response to a question on whether a forensic audit is compulsory on AP recipients to ensure no leakage and corruption elements in the process of awarding and distribution. “The ministry will continue to conduct compliance audit on all AP holders to assess the effectiveness of the open APs,“ he added.

The government has the intention of making public the findings of the audit, however the ministry has to be mindful of the legal implications if any announcement is made before the investigation is completed, Ong said.

In terms of action to be taken against the blacklisted companies, the deputy trade and industry minister said that they will be barred from applying for new permits, however they can still appeal the decisions, and these appeals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, he said.

The ministry of international trade and industry (MITI) stated in March that the issuance of open APs is a fully transparent process, following an allegation that Putrajaya had approved 38 new open AP holders. This was followed by international trade and industry minister Datuk Darell Leiking stated that AP abusers will be punished, upon being shown proof.