Singapore police recover S$27 million linked to China Ponzi scheme

Singapore police recover S$27 million linked to China Ponzi scheme

CAD and China
Commercial Affairs Department director David Chew (left) and Embassy of China Counsellor and Consul-General Wang Jiarong at a meeting in July 2018. (Photo: SPF)

SINGAPORE: Singapore police said on Tuesday (Aug 21) they have recovered more than S$27 million linked to one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in China, which saw 1.15 million investors cheated out of 38 billion yuan (S$7 billion).

Ezubao, once China's biggest peer-to-peer lending platform, folded in 2016 after it turned out to be an online scam that concocted fake projects to attract investment and pocketed funds instead of passing them to borrowers to generate returns.

In May that year, the Singapore police's Commercial Affairs Department assisted Chinese authorities during their investigation into the scam by conducting asset tracing in Singapore.

It discovered that more than S$27 million were illegally transferred to Singapore and alerted the Chinese authorities. 

The seized money will be returned to China this month to facilitate restitution to investors in accordance with Chinese laws, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said.  

READ: Beijing struggles to defuse anger over China's P2P lending crisis

Investigations found that no local entities were found to be involved in money laundering activities in Singapore, the SPF added.

Commercial Affairs Department director David Chew said the case "is a testament to our commitment to work with our foreign counterparts to detect and deter transnational crime". 

"The strong ties between the police forces of China and Singapore are instrumental in ensuring that our financial system is not abused by criminals,” he said. 

Twenty-six people in China have been jailed over the scam, including the chairman of the company behind Ezubao, who was sentenced to life imprisonment and fined 100 million yuan.

The case sparked a crackdown on China's freewheeling online financial services market and led to new regulations to control its P2P industry - where monthly volumes are above US$50 billion, statistics published by industry portal P2P001 show.

Source: CNA/Reuters/ad(cy)

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