A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 passenger aircraft makes its final approach for landing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, on Aug. 20, 2015
Mohd Rasfan—AFP/Getty Images
June 1, 2016 1:39 AM EDT

Malaysia’s Immigration Department has fired 15 of its officials after revealing a massive security breach — possibly ongoing since 2010 — that allowed certain passengers to travel unchecked through the country’s main international airport.

Action was taken against a total of 37 officers — including 14 who have been suspended — who allegedly took part in “sabotaging” the Malaysian Immigration System, state newswire Bernama reports. The computer system checks travelers’ passports against databases that include lists of lost and stolen passports.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said the 15 suspects were in police custody, citing immigration director general Sakib Kusmi as saying that the officials had allegedly been working with an outside criminal syndicate to undermine security checks at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“They deal online. The instructions come from overseas,” Sakib said. “They can manipulate our system from outside. You can see this in our computers — the cursor moves without someone operating it.”

Officials began investigating three months ago after frequent breakdowns of the computer system. Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said last week that up to 100 people could be involved.

[ABC, Bernama]

Write to Simon Lewis at simon_daniel.lewis@timeasia.com.

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