( dpa )- Malaysian anti-corruption officers have arrested four people believed to be part of a syndicate forging personal identification documents to enable illegal immigrants to enter the country, reports said Friday.
The suspects, including a senior officer from the National Registration Department, aged between 43 and 59, were caught in an undisclosed location Wednesday in the eastern state Sabah .
The officers discovered 21 Malaysian identification cards along with application forms and forged supporting documents such as birth certificates, the News Straits Times daily reported.
State Anti-Corruption Agency director Latifah Mohamad Yatim said it took a year of surveillance and data collection before the arrests were made, adding that the suspects - three men and a woman - have been remanded for at least three days to facilitate investigations.
"From our investigation, we believe people paid up to 18,000 ringgit (5,294 dollars) to get an (identification card) from the group," she said.
The national registration officer, who holds a senior position, was allegedly the syndicate's internal link with the department while the other three suspects were agents for those interested in purchasing the fake personal documents.
Latifah added that some buyers were believed to be carrying the fake identification cards with similar personal information and investigations were being carried out to find out how many cards have been sold.
Those caught forging travel documents face jail and whipping under the country's immigration laws.