More than HK$270,000 has been mysteriously withdrawn from the bank accounts of four passengers on missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370. A relative of one of the missing branded it "an evil crime".
"Do they realise some of those missing passengers are the sole breadwinners of their families and that they need that money?" said Lokman Mustafa, whose sister was on MH370. "I am angry to hear this news."
According to Malaysian police, the money was taken in early July, four months after MH370 went missing with 239 people on board while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
"A total of 111,000 ringgit (HK$270,840) was withdrawn from the accounts of four MH370 passengers. This occurred in one bank," said Kuala Lumpur Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief assistant commissioner Izany Abdul Ghany.
He declined to name the bank, which reported the incident to the police on August 2.
"The money was taken via ATM and internet bank transfer to a third party. We are investigating this case," Izany said.
He said the police were working closely with the bank and surveying its CCTV footage.
"Whoever did this is taking advantage of the situation and adding to the suffering of the victims' families," Izany added.
On March 24, the Malaysian government announced that flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Lokman's 30-year-old sister, industrial engineer Hajah Suhaili Mustafa, was on the flight as part of an assignment to Beijing to help build a semiconductor plant there.
"People are still suffering. Some are still hoping for the plane to be found. They have not gotten over the tragedy," Lokman said. "People should leave them alone to pick up the pieces and carry on with their lives."
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai is scheduled to visit Australia on Tuesday to hold talks with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, as well as with agencies and search teams, on the search for and recovery of MH370.
Australia last week signed a contract worth US$55 million with Dutch company Fugro to scour the ocean floor for the wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.