Ibrahim Ivan Omar, director of The IO Movement, has been charged with 12 charges of falsifying claims with regards to contracts by Tourism Malaysia, reported The Star and Malay Mail. Ibrahim, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and the case is fixed for mention on 1 September, media reports said.
According to The Star, 10 of the charges fall under Section 471 of the Penal Code which cites using a forged document as a genuine one as an offence. If convicted, the charges carry an imprisonment of up to two years or fine, or both. Meanwhile, the other two charges are under Section 18 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which cites the offence of "intending to deceive principal by agent". The Star said if convicted, Ibrahim could face a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine not less than RM10,000 or five times the amount of the bribe. Seven of the offences were committed last September by Ibrahim, while the other five were reportedly committed last month, The Star added.
In June, MACC arrested three company directors who were allegedly involved in a bribery case to secure a government ad contract reportedly from Tourism Malaysia worth RM90 million. Sources of multiple media outlets such as Berita Harian, New Straits Times, The Star and Malay Mail, said previously that the company whose directors were arrested reportedly "submitted false documents" and produced false information to obtain the contract. Media reports also said that the company was allegedly unqualified, and also failed subsequent technical and financial assessments.
Meanwhile in February, A+M broke the news of Tourism Malaysia selecting The IO Movement to handle global advertising and promotion duties worth around RM89.1 million last year. The agency has also been roped into the conversation through tweets circulating online. The IO Movement was founded by Ivan Omar, according to his LinkedIn, and the CEO of the company is Ifrahim Baydr Omar, whose LinkedIn said he joined in 2016. A quick check by A+M found that the website is still under construction.
In March, A+M reached out to Tourism Malaysia to find out about the status of The IO Movement, given that the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign was cancelled, as well as what factors led to the appointment of the agency. Tourism Malaysia's spokesperson told A+M back then: "At this moment, we would not be able to furnish any information or status of the appointed ad agency. Our focus right now is on the Movement Control Order declared by the government." A+M has since followed up in April and June but received no response from Tourism Malaysia.
Separately, the Malaysian High Court recently dismissed MACC's bid to forfeit RM4,631,602 taken from a bank account belonging to GroupM (Mediaedge:cia) for reportedly being associated with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal, reported Bernama.
High Court judicial commissioner Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh dismissed MACC's application in a decision, after finding that MACC was unable to prove that the money stemmed from proceeds from unlawful activities. Ahmad Shahrir explained that Mediaedge:cia "is a legitimate business entity" that carries out business as a media relations service provider, and the RM4,631,602 in question was paid for the service concerned. He explained that the money was used by the agency to pay for the media slots and time bought by ORB Solutions under the media service agreement.