The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) continues to toughen up its stance on fraudulent withdrawals to ensure that members' retirement savings are protected and preserved for their post-retirement needs.
As the custodian of old-age savings for more than 11 million members, the EPF has constantly exercised vigilance and caution in dealing with withdrawals by members, to ensure that their savings are being withdrawn for the appropriate reasons as provided for under the EPF Act 1991.
"As an organisation responsible for the retirement welfare of our members, the EPF has several withdrawals in place to assist members achieve a higher quality of post-retirement life. These include withdrawals for housing, higher education and even for the treatment of critical illness," said Nik Affendi Jaafar, the EPF's Senior Public Relations Manager.
"When members withdraw or attempt to withdraw their own savings under the pretext of these specific withdrawals but use the money for other purposes, they can be charged for fraudulent or attempted fraudulent withdrawals," he added.
Fraudulent withdrawal of a member's EPF savings is an offence under Section 59 of the EPF Act 1991. Those found guilty are liable to a maximum jail sentence of three years, or a RM10,000 fine, or both.
In most fraudulent withdrawal cases, members have submitted forged supporting documents such as medical reports and enrolment letters at institutions of higher learning in an attempt to defraud the EPF into approving their applications.
In the past, several institutions of higher learning, private medical centres, and syndicates have been found to collaborate with members by providing the forged documents, and demanding a cut of the member's savings once it has been successfully withdrawn.
"It is sad that some members resort to fraudulent means to withdraw their savings. It is even sadder when some of them are willing to pay part of their own hard-earned savings to unscrupulous third parties. Members should realise that they are not cheating the EPF of any money; they are only cheating themselves," added Nik Affendi.
The EPF has stringent verification processes in place to ensure that each application for withdrawal is genuine. However, even if members succeed in withdrawing their savings via fraudulent means, the EPF's monitoring mechanisms are able to detect and trace the application. In these cases, the members can be charged in court.
"Sometimes, members are duped by syndicates into withdrawing their own EPF savings. We would like to remind members that their EPF savings are meant for their old age, and they should not get involved with syndicates to deplete their old-age savings prematurely. Ultimately, protecting members' savings and safeguarding their future is the EPF's main objective," concluded Nik Affendi.
About the Employees Provident Fund (EPF)
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is Malaysia’s premier retirement savings fund to help its members achieve adequate savings for a comfortable retirement. This is in line with EPF’s vision to help members achieve a better future and the mission to safeguard members’ savings and deliver excellent services. The EPF has evolved significantly from transaction-centric to a professional fund management organisation with a strong focus on retirement security. The EPF is guided by a robust and professional governance framework when making investment decisions. It continues to play a catalytic role in the nation’s economic growth and seeks to cultivate a savings and investment culture among its members to improve the country’s financial literacy level.