A Company Linked To Ahmad Zahid Allegedly Exploited Nepali Workers In A RM185 Million Scam

600,000 workers were affected over the last five years.

Cover image via Nepali Times

Last week, Nepali Times reported Nepali and Malaysian bureaucrats as being responsible for a RM185 million scam over Nepali migrant workers who sought work in Malaysia from 2013 to 2018

The Malaysian company in question is Bestinet Sdn Bhd, a firm owned by Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Abdul Nor, the brother-in-law of former Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

theSun reported that Bestinet had previously listed ex-Home Minister Tan Sri Azmi Khalid as a director of the company. In 2015, the firm had lobbied for their online system in maintaining data on recruitment, visa processing, medical checkup, insurance, and monitoring of workers.

Screenshot of Bestinet's website.

Image via Bestinet

Bestinet is just one of several firms that allegedly profited from Nepalis who were looking for jobs in Malaysia through an elaborate process of work visa application. Just last month, the firm denied being involved in trafficking of Bangladeshi migrant workers, according to Free Malaysia Today.

Nepali Times reported that a network of Malaysian and Nepali firms, including Bestinet, have extorted nearly NPR5 billion (approximately RM185 million) from Nepali migrant workers over the last five years.

An infographic of the NPR5 billion (approximately RM185 million) scam.

Image via Nepali Times

Instead of paying only NPR700 (approximately RM26) for a visa, the cross-country scam required workers to fork out as much as NPR17,200 (approximately RM635) in order to work in Malaysia

In 2015, the Malaysian government put Bestinet in charge of biometric health screening for Nepalis after making it mandatory for them to undergo a biometric test prior to entering Malaysia. 

Nepalis used to be able to get medical tests from government-approved health facilities for NPR2,600 (approximately RM96). However, Bestinet's partnership with the Nepal Health Professional Federation (NHPF) allegedly raised the cost to NPR4,500 (approximately RM167) for each worker.

Ahmad Zahid met with former Nepali Labour Minister Tek Bahadur Gurung in 2015.

Image via Nepali Times

On top of that, Bestinet was allowed to charge workers NPR6,700 (approximately RM248) for passport scans, fingerprinting, and online data entry. 

Workers also had to pay an extra NPR2,800 (approximately RM104) just to have their visa forms and passports dropped off at the Malaysian embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Together with the existing NPR3,200 slapped on every Malaysia-bound Nepali migrant worker for a work visa, the total cost a worker had to bear was NPR17,200 (approximately RM635).

In response to claims against Bestinet, Ahmad Zahid said earlier today, 23 July, that he is ready to be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)

Image via Malay Mail

"I am ready to be investigated and show evidence that I was not involved or had abused my power or that any of my family members were involved," he was quoted as saying by The Star.

He also denied having a brother-in-law named Amin or holding any shares in Bestinet.

You can read the full report by Nepali Times here.

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