I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking when you read the headline: what has Lamborghini got to do with laundered money?
Before you speculate and judge, we’ll be upright honest: clickbait.
But of course, the Lamborghini does play a part in this story. In fact, a pretty big part.
But before anything, you need to know what money laundering is.
What is Money Laundering?
In Chinese, we call it 洗黑钱, which literally means “washing black money”.
Basically, it’s a process that makes money that’s obtained illegally looks legit.
I’m going to go all out and give you an example based on a fictional restaurant (which, if you think about it, is quite common here in Singapore).
A restaurant in Singapore has only two or three customers daily, but somehow, it managed to survive for years. The owners are either very rich (or have rich parents), or they’re laundering money.
Because on its accounts, it reported a revenue of $5,000 a day. Unless every customer pays $2,500 for a meal, that is impossible.
However, it turns out that the owners have friends who are robbers who rob people daily. Once they’ve got the money, they would give it to the restaurant owners, who logged them in as “sales”.
With that, the robbers’ trails (and any evidence) would be completely hidden, as the police can’t find any money in their house. The owners had used the restaurant’s bank account to hide the robbed money, and passed it off as “revenue”.
Makes you wonder whether many businesses in Singapore, which look like they’re not making a profit, are washing black money, eh?
Now that you know what money laundering is, meet Paul Gabriel Amos, a Nigerian, who’s also a Singapore permanent resident.
He’s now in prison for money laundering, and lest you’re wondering, No, he’s not a fake Nigerian prince.
Laundered Money from Ethiopian Government
Ethiopia is a country in Africa, and you might remember it for the recent Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash that caused countries all over the world to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes.
So basically, Amos has a trading company called Pags Resources. An online search revealed that the company is incorporated since 2003, so it’s a rather old and established company. The company has a corporate account with DBS.
Amos has a friend called Robert Umohette. Umohette called Amos, telling him that he had managed to cheat money from the Ethiopian Government through various projects he had with them. He wanted the money to be sent to Singapore, which of course means to launder money.
Amos did not want to get into trouble with the Singapore authorities, and so he refused to use Pags Resources bank account.
However, he called his other friend, Mohammad Sohail, also known as Malik, for help instead. Malik is a director of another company in Australia called Mac Warners with a corporate bank account with Westpac (why foreign banks’ name sound so much more atas one?)
Amos was then promised a cut as “commission”.
So, a total of USD$1.84 million were sent to the Westpac account on 2 October 2008.
Then, somehow, Umohette called Amos to transfer a portion of the USD$1.84 million to a Singapore OCBC account that belonged to Ideal Con. While Amos did ask for more information about Ideal Con, Umohette did not reveal further details.
Amos did as instructed, transferring USD$669,500 to Ideal Con. Next, Umohette told him to transfer another portion to a Hong Kong bank account, which Amos did dutifully, transferring a total of SGD$590,000 there.
Lest you’re not aware, money laundering often involves lots of transfers so that they would look “legit”. I learn that from movies one.
With that, his money laundering effort would be done, and he would be receiving USD$300,000 for his hard work of merely transferring money (i.e. money laundering lah).
Want to Collect Commission in Cash
Pretty sure Amos know the Singapore authorities are strict, because not only does he want the commission to be collected in cash, he wanted to collect it in Hong Kong instead.
And he did receive the USD$300,000, but could not open a bank account in Hong Kong. So his wife went to Hong Kong, opened a Hong Kong HSBC bank account for him and guess what?
He transferred the bulk of the USD$300,000 to his company (Pags Resources).
Get the irony so far?
He has refused to use Pags Resources DBS account to launder money for his friend, but with the money he got for money laundering, he’s willing to use the account.
The Commercial Affairs Department here in Singapore learned about the money laundering from the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Australian federal police, and ta-da: Amos was caught.
Out of USD$300,000, he was made to return SGD$100,000, and another SGD$35,000 were recovered during investigations.
Now, just something to add on that’s very relevant now: USD$300,000 isn’t enough to buy a Lamborghini here in Singapore. A new Lamborghini (which can only be driven for ten-years, yo) cost about SGD$1 million.
In other words, Amos is rich even without money laundering; his greed for even more has caused him this downfall.
Jailed for Three Years
On Thursday (16 May 2019), Amos pleaded guilty to six charges including abetting the dishonest receipt of stolen property, using the benefits of criminal conduct for his personal expenses, and reckless driving, and would be jailed for three years.
His reckless driving offence was committed in 2016, when he cut lane recklessly at high speed that nearly hit two vehicles. In addition, he wasn’t holding a valid driving license then.
But honestly, all we can think of is this: if he had continued to work hard, he would have been a Lambo owner whom we all aspire to be.
Now, he’s a Lambo driver whom we all hope not to be.
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