Charities Have Surrendered Over $800k of Money-Laundering-Linked Donations to the Authorities


Multiple charities across Singapore had become beneficiaries of funds from individuals associated with a notable money laundering case in Singapore.

Compiling with the Commissioner of Charities’ (COC) advice, the charities relinquished the donations to law enforcement.

On 18 May 2024, it was reported that the Community Chest (ComChest) received $30,000, while the President’s Challenge obtained over $350,000 from individuals whose names resemble those of 10 individuals charged in the $2.8 billion money laundering case.

It is Singapore’s worst money laundering case and one of the world’s largest.

On 15 Aug 2023, over 400 officers, led by the Commercial Affairs Department, raided locations including Tanglin, Bukit Timah, Orchard Road, Sentosa, and River Valley.

The next day, nine men and one woman, all originally from China, were charged with offences including money laundering, forgery, and resisting arrest.

Authorities also seized 152 properties and 62 vehicles valued at over $1.24 billion, bank account funds exceeding $1.45 billion, and cash in various currencies worth more than $76 million.

Suspicious Transactions Reported in October Last Year

Back in October 2023, Ms Charmaine Leung, managing director of ComChest, the philanthropy and engagement arm of the National Council of Social Service, lodged police reports and filed suspicious transaction reports (STRs).

A spokesperson for the President’s Challenge had also stated that they have lodged police reports and STRs, while ensuring that donations already distributed to beneficiary agencies remain unaffected.

The spokesperson further noted their collaboration with the COC to decide on the handling of the donations.

The identities of the donors remained undisclosed by both organisations.

On the other hand, Sian Chay Medical Institution reported that it had already surrendered all donations it received from individuals involved in the case to the authorities in October 2023.

From 2020 to 2022, Su Haijin gave $101,000 in total to a social service agency. Su Baolin donated $39,000 from 2021 to 2023, and Zhang Ruijin gave $12,000 in 2021.

Sian Chay Medical Institution mentioned in an earlier interview that in 2020, it received $100,000 checks from each of these three individuals, which were then passed on to the President’s Challenge.

Following an advisory from the COC in the same month, charities were urged to review their donor records since January 2019 to identify any connections to the case and assess potential risks.

Subsequently, over $800,000 in donations from four convicted foreigners—Su Haijin, Su Baolin, Vang Shuiming, and Zhang Ruijin—were surrendered to authorities, with the funds currently held by the police or the Accountant-General’s Department.


The four men pleaded guilty and received jail sentences ranging from 13 months to 15 months. 

Other Charities Intend to Return the Money too

At least six charitable organisations and social service agencies had received donations from individuals involved in the case.

Other charitable organisations that received contributions from those associated with the case have yet to hand over the funds to authorities but have expressed their intention to do so.

The National Kidney Foundation acknowledged receiving a donation from Su Baolin and is collaborating with the Commissioner of Charities to return S$14,500 to the Singapore Police Force.

Lions Befrienders, a group aiding the elderly, received a S$5,000 donation in 2022 from one of the ten individuals arrested during the August 2023 anti-money laundering operation.


Although the donor’s identity was not disclosed, Lions Befrienders received the sum indirectly through a group assisting the organisation.

Karen Wee, the executive director, stated, “We will relinquish the $5,000 but await instructions on the procedure and timing of the forfeiture, and to whom it should be given. Lions Befrienders will not retain the funds for internal use.”

Rainbow Centre, which supports people with disabilities, confirmed receiving $72,450 in total from Vang Shuiming, Su Haijin, and Zhang Ruijin.

Executive director Tan Sze Wee mentioned that since these donations are not subject to police seizure, they plan to set aside the money for six months starting from 1 March, 2024.

Tan stated, “If authorities do not require us to return the funds, they will be allocated to our welfare fund to assist low-resource families.”

She also noted that Rainbow Centre has enhanced its processes and donor due diligence since the case emerged to ensure the legitimacy of donations.


Return of Money Raises Eyebrows from Netizens

After all, money going to a good cause is still ultimately beneficial, many people think, believing that the charities should be keeping the money as long as it is going to help the less fortunate.

A netizen wrote, “At least they did charity, so many rich man’s sons spending crazily also never donate that kind of money to charities. No matter what they did, their charity work (is) still appreciated.”

Some people also wonder where exactly the laundered money will go to after it has been surrendered.

Victoria Ting, an associate director at Setia Law, explained that the police might issue asset freezing orders, typically when funds are suspected to be linked to criminal activities.

If an asset freeze order is in place, charities are obligated to refrain from using or managing the assets. However, if such an order is absent, charities could handle the donations normally.


Ms Ting emphasised that not all past donations from accused or convicted individuals are necessarily tainted, hence charities aren’t automatically prohibited from using or managing them.

“Just because someone is accused or convicted in this manner does not automatically mean that all his (or) her past donations were derived from tainted sources,” she said.

Mr Chenthil Kumarasingam, a partner at Withers KhattarWong, explained that surrendered donations may fund law enforcement or other public interest projects, following a disposal inquiry to resolve competing claims.

Ultimately, the money is transferred to the Consolidated Fund for government expenditure.