7 Facts About the Money Laundering Case That Are Revealed During 3 Oct Parliament Sitting

If you think you are hearing about the money laundering case in Singapore a little too often, that may not be wrong.

After all, it is a developing case.

And it involves a whopping multi-billion-dollar sum.

There are also people of many different nationalities involved in this money laundering crime.

With the latest revelation at today’s (3 October 2023) parliamentary session that this money laundering case could be among the world’s largest, we are sure this case won’t be out of the limelight anytime soon.

The parliamentary session revealed many interesting facts about this ongoing case.

We are here to tell you all about what was shared earlier today (3 October 2023).

Parliament Discussed the Money Laundering Case Worth Almost 3 Billion

In Singapore, parliament convened today (3 October 2023) to discuss a variety of issues.

One of the topics tabled for discussion was the money laundering case, where over $2.8 billion worth of assets have been seized.

During the parliamentary session, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo gave a lengthy address on this issue.

She is also currently the Minister for Communications and Information.

For those who are unaware, the current Minister for Home Affairs is Minister K Shanmugam.

You can watch what Mrs Teo has to say about the money laundering case in this video here.

Investigations Started in 2022 From Some Tip-Offs in 2021

In her sharing, Mrs Teo revealed that the case started sometime in 2021.

The beginning was when local police received “disparate information” about the money laundering case.

This involved documents which were suspected to be forged—the documents were used to substantiate where the bank account funds came from.

Financial institutions and companies also triggered alarms regarding transactions that looked fishy.

The Singapore police, being ever-efficient, started to look into these reports.

Then, in 2022, the police connected the dots and launched a “comprehensive, coordinated intelligence probe”.

This exercise was fruitful as it led to the uncovering of a “web of individuals believed to have connections amongst themselves, including by familial ties”.

With proper analysis and investigations, the digging continued.

All this while, the government was trying to keep things under wraps to avoid alerting the individuals involved in the case.

Mrs Teo shared that as the probe “progressed”, the “web uncovered by the police grew and grew”.

If you are wondering why the investigations took so long before any arrests were made in the later half of this year (2023), it’s because of the need to be “discreet” when making investigations.

The Investigation Team Was Initially Small and Grew Over Time

Indeed, things had to be kept hush-hush to avoid tipping off the suspects.

The initial investigation team was confined to a “very small group” of officers.

We sure think this group of officers would have to have undergone extreme security clearance to confirm that they have no links whatsoever to the suspects.

However, as time grew, the number of people working on the case increased.

This eventually led to about 400 officers being mobilised for the actual raids, once the police were ready.

Suspects Were Nabbed in 2023 After Police Raids

Now, the story of the money laundering case pivots to something that most of us may be familiar with.

The raids of the good class bungalows located in all the “atas” areas in Singapore.

Earlier this year, in August, the police conducted raids in areas such as Orchard, Sentosa Cove, Holland, Tanglin and River Valley.

The raid was successful, with ten foreigners arrested. There were nine men and one woman among those nabbed.

These foreigners ranged between 31 and 44 years of age.

For those who did not watch Mrs Teo’s speech, you may be interested to know that the raid was only done after the police had gathered sufficient information.

The police also obtained the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ opinion that there was a good basis to suspect criminal offences had been committed in Singapore.

This raid was also the largest anti-money laundering operation conducted by local police and authorities in Singapore.

The basis for nabbing these individuals was suspected involvement in money laundering and forgery.

While the raid was successful, Mrs Teo also said that there were still “many others” who were out in the open and not yet nabbed by the police.

Some were assisting with ongoing investigations, while others were not in Singapore.

Mrs Teo did not put a number as to how many people the police were searching for, but we hazard a guess that the number will continue to grow as the police dig further into this case.

Suspects Involved Are of Chinese Origin but Have Different Nationalities and Passports

Interestingly enough, although the police investigations began with the idea that the suspects may be related to each other, not all of them hold passports from the same country.

Some of those nabbed had Cyprus passports. Others held Cambodian passports.

Yet others held Turkish passports.

There were, of course, Chinese passport holders.

Some were also of Ni-Vanuatu nationalities.

That said, the common thread for all those arrested was that they were of Chinese origin.

Singapore Did Not Carry Out the Investigations at China’s Request

Are you tired of the sharing in parliament yet?

If you are, do not be. There is still plenty to be shared, as Mrs Teo revealed many more tidbits of information during the parliamentary session.

One of the key points she touched on was who instigated the investigations.

Earlier this year, there was some speculation that the investigations were done at the behest of China.

Or that there was some foreign influence or pressure which led to Singapore carrying out these investigations.

During the parliamentary session, Mrs Teo firmly shut down all these points.

She said that the suspicions that Singapore was carrying out investigations because China asked us to were “completely untrue”.

Standing firm that Singapore is an autonomous country with the ability to make its own decisions, Mrs Teo said that Singapore “does not need another country to tell us what to do to enforce our laws”.

She was also clear that Singapore will not “do anything unless it is in our own interests”.

For this huge money-laundering case, the investigations commenced because of the suspicions that the illegal operations were carried out in Singapore.

After the suspicions were confirmed and settled, the police made their moves to act against the suspects.

Some Suspects Are Wanted Individuals in China

Well, it’s now clear that Singapore is not a “minion” acting on the orders of other countries.

In fact, other countries may want to thank us for our efforts in helping to nab some suspects.

Some of the ten foreigners who were arrested earlier this year are reportedly wanted by the Chinese police.

The two suspects include Vang Shuiming (who has a Turkish passport) and Chen Qingyuan (who has a Cambodian passport).

Vang is wanted by the public security bureau in Zibo for his involvement in an illegal gambling syndicate.

Chen is instead wanted by the public security bureau in the Anxi County of the Fujian province in China for various offences.

We guess once Singapore is done with these suspects, they can be turned over to the Chinese police to get their just desserts.

Could China send Singapore more pandas as an expression of thanks in a display of “panda politics”?

New Committee to Strengthen Anti-money Laundering Efforts in Singapore Will Be Formed

Since the news of money laundering occurring in Singapore broke earlier this year, many people have asked about the money laundering measures that Singapore has.

And how these criminals managed to slip through the cracks and have their activities go unnoticed.

Is the anti-money laundering regime in Singapore too lax?

Whatever the case, Singapore will be convening a new inter-ministerial committee to review the anti-money laundering efforts in Singapore.

The committee will be tasked to ensure that our policies are up-to-date and able to deal with increasingly sophisticated crimes.

This committee was announced by the Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah, in parliament today (3 October 2023).

Ms Indranee will be the chairperson of the committee.

There will be representatives from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law, Ministry of Manpower, and Ministry of Trade and Industry on the committee as well.

Some areas of review will include how to prevent abuse of corporate structures and how to enhance financial institutions’ controls.

They will also look into how to centralise and strengthen the monitoring capabilities of different government agencies.