Over the past few weeks, news of businessman Datuk Seri Nicky Liow Soon Hee — who is currently on the run — have grabbed headlines nationwide
Following the arrest of over 68 individuals connected to Liow and his fraud syndicate, more and more information is being revealed about his shady links to secret societies around the world.
Coupling that with his past controversies — such as assaulting three RELA personnel in 2017 and his alleged involvement in a gang fight in Scott Garden, Kuala Lumpur in 2019 — there is growing public interest about this businessman who carries a Datuk Seri title which was conferred to him six years ago.
It is learnt that his syndicate — dubbed 'Nicky gang' — targeted victims in China by offering investment schemes that promised high returns, reported theSundaily.
The funds they received were later channelled to online gambling websites and cryptocurrency. The money came out clean after it was laundered through money exchange services, online gambling, and underground casinos.
The Nicky gang is also accused of being involved in the infamous Macau scam.
The scale of his operation is yet to be fully understood, but Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said the 33-year-old fugitive has RM40 million in his bank account and a net worth of RM1 billion.
To help you get up to speed, here are eight things you need to know about Liow and the latest information revealed about him:
1. His brothers have been arrested, but he is on the run
During a massive eight-day operation dubbed Ops Pelican 3.0, the police conducted 70 raids in the Klang Valley and arrested 68 individuals.
New Straits Times reported that among the arrested were Liow's brothers: a 28-year-old Datuk and 30-year-old Datuk Seri.
Liow's brothers were found to have previous criminal records involving drugs and assault cases.
"Although he is believed to still be in the country, we cannot rule out the possibility that he may try to find a way out illegally," said Johor police chief CP Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.
"We do believe that his movements are now limited due to the fact that his two brothers have been arrested."
It is said that Liow has a close relationship with his brothers.
2. Another Datuk Seri and five other Datuks were also arrested
Among the 42 individuals arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), 30 are Malaysians and 18 are China nationals, reported The Star.
"We also detained 10 Chinese men, one Chinese woman, and a Myanmar woman for offences under the Immigration Act, while eight Malaysian men were also arrested after they tested positive for drugs," said the IGP.
The police did not reveal the names of the individuals holding the honourific titles.
Liow was last seen at SetiaWalk in Puchong on 20 March. It has been revealed that his syndicate operated from 48 apartment units there.
3. Liow grabbed 'bags of cash' before escaping
Ayob Khan said the police received information that the fugitive packed eight bags of cash before fleeing, reported The Star.
It is said to contain millions of ringgit.
According to Astro Awani, the police have frozen 41 bank accounts worth RM4,053,809.49 and seized 35 vehicles worth RM8,863,759.00 connected to him.
Cash in various currencies amounting to over RM700,000 and 16 luxury cars valued at RM6.67 million were also confiscated.
4. Liow paid 'top money' to stay off authorities' radar
According to The Star, Liow allegedly bribed authorities in order to get information about whether his operations were detected by any enforcement agencies.
A former deputy public prosecutor is known to be Liow's 'fixer'. He allegedly acquired the information from the police, Bank Negara, and the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN), before relaying it to the Winner Dynasty Group founder.
The former deputy public prosecutor has since been arrested.
Abdul Hamid also revealed that 34 police officers and enforcement officers are part of the Nicky gang, reported Malaysiakini.
It is believed that they were under Liow's payroll.
The IGP described these 34 public sector personnel as 'traitors', adding that the Johor police headquarters will soon arrest them.
He also said that Liow managed to escape because information regarding Ops Pelican 3.0 was leaked, reported Bernama.
5. Zhang Jian — self-proclaimed 'future richest man in the world' — is said to be Liow's mentor
In an infographic made by the Johor police department, it is said that Chinese businessman Zhang Jian was Liow's mentor.
Interestingly, Zhang used to run a multi-level marketing (MLM) company headquartered in SetiaWalk, the same location that the police raided recently.
He was wanted by several neighbouring countries on suspicion of running get-rich-quick schemes. He was arrested in Indonesia and sent back to China in 2017.
The Star reported that in the past, Liow allegedly got his first break to head a major Macau scam founded by Zhang.
Although Zhang is now placed behind bars in China, it is understood that Liow regularly sent money to support the family of his 'sifu'.
Liow also managed to form connections with various triads abroad after Zhang was imprisoned, which is believed to have been arranged by the latter.
6. Liow also had ties with a former Macau triad leader
Following Ops Pelican 3.0, investigations found that Liow had ties with known convicted Chinese triad boss Wan Kuok-koi, reported Malay Mail.
Wan — also widely known as 'Broken Tooth' — was responsible for the rise of gang violence in the gambling enclave of Macau in the late 1990s.
At that time, he was the leader of the Macau branch of the Hong Kong-based 14K Triad organised crime group and founder of the World Hongmen History and Culture Association.
He was eventually arrested and spent 14 years in prison until 2012.
Last year, the 65-year-old former inmate was appointed as Inix Technologies Berhad's independent non-executive chairman, according to The Edge Markets.
It is a publicly listed company in Malaysia.
Four months later, he resigned and the position was taken up by former IGP Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun.
Not much was revealed about Wan's departure other than "to pursue personal interests", but having a former IGP appointed to the post raised eyebrows.
However, Mohamad Fuzi's stint was even shorter than Wan's. He resigned five days after the appointment.
Although Liow has never been seen together with Mohamad Fuzi, he has been captured standing next to Mohamad Fuzi's predecessor — Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar — in the past.
Ever since the hunt for Liow started, current IGP Abdul Hamid has warned the police force to forgo the old practices before it is too late.
Free Malaysia Today reported in January that Wan is believed to be hiding in Malaysia and is continuing his operations here.
He is wanted by the US government for his alleged involvement in expanding his illegal activities throughout Southeast Asia on the back of China's Belt and Road initiative.
7. Wan is linked to international drug lord Tse Chi Lop
Liow has links to Wan, and Wan is said to have links to international drug lord Tse Chi Lop, reported Free Malaysia Today.
Tse was described as the 'most wanted man in Asia' as well as 'Asia's El Chapo'. He was arrested in the Netherlands in January this year.
A combined effort from 20 enforcement agencies around the world — led by the Australian Federal Police — made Tse's arrest a success.
The drug lord is said to be the head of international crime group Sam Gor, also known as 'The Company'. The organisation comprises five different triads in three different countries, namely 14K Triad, Bamboo Union, Big Circle Boys, Sun Yee On, and Wo Shing Wo.
They are primarily involved in drug trafficking, and even conduct deals with the yakuza in Japan and biker gangs in Australia.
Sam Gor is also alleged of conducting money laundering in Southeast Asia's Mekong region, making funds received from drug trades clean via casinos, hotels, and real estate.
The organisation is said to have made USD17 billion annually from its meth business.
8. Liow allegedly converted to Islam because of love
A recent China Press report revealed that the fugitive is believed to have converted to Islam last year because he wanted to marry his fiancé, who is of Hui descent.
According to TIME, Hui is a 10.5-million-strong ethnic group that is also the second-largest recognised ethnic minority in China.
Photos published by him in August 2020 show that he went to the Muslim Welfare Organisation of Malaysia (PERKIM) office to allegedly change his faith.
However, it should be noted that legal conversions for marriage in Malaysia can only be done at Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) or Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) offices. PERKIM is a non-governmental organisation that assists non-Muslims with the conversion.
"The day I, Soon Hee, joined Islam and became a Hui," he wrote in the caption.
The post can no longer be found, however, a video showing the ceremony of his alleged conversion can be found here.