Man linked to S$10m COVID-19 scam fails to turn up for charging as he has fever, needs swab test

Man linked to S$10m COVID-19 scam fails to turn up for charging as he has fever, needs swab test

Briton Skea Nigel and partner Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai arrive at the State Courts in Singapore
File photo of the State Courts. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE: A man set to be charged with money-laundering offences linked to a S$10.2 million COVID-19 scam did not turn up in court on Wednesday (Feb 24) as he developed a fever and has to go for a swab test.

Thye Wee Boon, 40, was supposed to be given 19 charges in court on Wednesday morning. These are mostly for converting or transferring criminal property from the jurisdiction, acquiring or using criminal proceeds and moving cash exceeding an allowed limit out of Singapore.

However, Thye was nowhere to be seen. His lawyer, Mr Thong Chee Kun of Rajah & Tann, addressed the court and said: "This morning I got an update from him, he said his temperature was above 38 degrees. He went to Changi General Hospital and has been given an MC for these symptoms: Fever and sore throat, and he is required to take a swab test."

Thye received the notice of charges from the police's Commercial Affairs Department the night before.

Mr Thong said his client's medical certificate was valid from Wednesday to Friday, and added that he had asked Thye's bailor to stay outside the court building in case he was exposed, since he was with Thye the day before for bail purposes.

The judge adjourned the case to Mar 3.

According to the police, they investigated Thye for his suspected involvement in money-laundering offences linked to a COVID-19 scam.

The police were alerted in March last year to a case of an overseas pharmaceutical company being defrauded of 6.6 million euros (S$10.2 million) for the purchase of surgical masks and hand sanitisers.

After the company transferred the money to a local bank, the items were not delivered, and they could not contact the supplier.

CAD officers identified Thye as the man who had allegedly received the money and arrested him on Mar 25, 2020. Further investigations suggested that he likely knew the money was part of criminal proceeds and used, transferred and shifted part of the cash from the country.

The offence of money laundering under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking And Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation Of Benefits) Act carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to S$500,000.

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Source: CNA/ll