KUALA LUMPUR- The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has banned imports from Malaysian glove manufacturer Brightway Group over suspected forced labour practices, the agency said on Monday.

It is the sixth ban in 18 months on a Malaysian company, and the fifth from the country's glove manufacturing sector since September 2019.

Brightway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CBP issued a withhold release order, instructing U.S. ports of entry to detain disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by three companies in the group - Brightway Holdings, Laglove and Biopro - from Monday.

The action was taken based on "information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labour in that entity's manufacturing operations," it said in a statement.

CBP said it identified 10 of the 11 International Labour Organization's indicators of forced labor during its investigation into Brightway.

In December last year, Malaysian officials raided Brightway's facilities and found workers living in shipping containers, under conditions so squalid that human resources minister M. Saravanan later likened them to "modern slavery."

Asked in May about the raids, the company's managing director, G. Baskaran, told Reuters that audit reports from 2019 and 2020 showed "we did not practice any form of forced labour or modern slavery."

About a month after the Malaysian raids, CBP opened investigations into Brightway, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

(Reporting by Liz Lee Editing by Mark Potter) ((liz.lee@thomsonreuters.com; +603 23338008; Twitter: @livinglizly;))