Sarawak power company, pulls plug on major meter-tampering syndicate

KUCHING, Aug 29 — A joint operation carried out by Sarawak Energy Berhad’s utility arm Syarikat Sesco Berhad (Sesco) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) smashed a meter-tampering syndicate in Miri two days ago.

The operation was the result of an internal investigation and public tip off, which led to the arrest of a syndicate member and seizure of more than 500 imitation Sesco meter covers and 90 stolen Sesco meters.

Sesco, in a statement today, said the operation covered two locations, at Jalan Acacia and Permyjaya where the suspect operates his meter-tampering business.

“At the premises, the team also discovered about 100 cryptocurrency mining servers directly tapping power, bypassing Sesco meters,” it said.

In the operation, the suspect — detained at his rented house in Jalan Acacia in Miri — was found to have converted one of his rooms into a laboratory for meter-tampering activities.

Various meter components and parts used for tampering — such as relay switches, cut-out fuses, cut-out holders, meter security seals, meter circuit boards and remote-control switches — were found at the premises together with 90 stolen SESCO electric meters.

All evidence found in both premises were confiscated by MACC and direct tapping cables connected to the cryptocurrency mining servers were dismantled and seized by Sesco technicians as evidence for prosecution.

It is believed that the syndicate was responsible for most of the meter-tampering activities in Miri and Sibu for years, servicing residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Upon his release from detention by MACC yesterday, the suspect was immediately detained by police for further investigations into the theft of Sesco meters as well as power theft activities.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. This collaboration with MACC is based on our suspicion that the syndicate is operating with assistance from insiders within the company. We now have the opportunity to further investigate this suspicion,” said Sesco spokesman.

“We will not compromise on integrity and strongly condemn any form of corrupt practice. Our staff must abide by the law and Code of Ethics. Anyone who is proven to have acted fraudulently or in a corrupt manner will be dealt with according to the law,” he added.

With this significant arrest, Sesco will continue to carry out meter inspection operations across the state and work with Ministry of Utilities Electricity Inspectorate Unit (EIU) and other enforcement agencies, such as MACC and police, to curb power theft.

Power theft in the state has caused Sarawak Energy RM80 million in losses annually and out of this amount, RM25 million is recorded in Miri alone.
The workshop of the syndicate member discovered in a house in Miri. — Picture courtesy of Sarawak Energy Bhd