SINGAPORE: A 58-year-old woman was sentenced to 14 months’ jail on Monday (Sep 14) for her involvement in money laundering offences, after she helped her overseas boyfriend receive money from victims through her bank account.
Tan Yock Eng pleaded guilty to all four charges.
She was working as a part-time property agent when the offences were committed in 2015 and 2017, and received at least S$128,000 through her bank accounts from victims based in Indonesia and Australia.
According to court documents, Tan met her boyfriend, known to her as Dieter, sometime between late 2010 and early 2011 at a park in New York. He told her he was a Swiss national and a civil engineer who travelled frequently for work.
Tan had two bank accounts – one with Maybank and another with CIMB. She provided details of both accounts to Dieter for the purpose of receiving money on his behalf, said the police.
Dieter gave instructions to Tan to withdraw money she received through the accounts and transfer the funds to his associates, who were unknown to her.
However, the funds in Tan’s bank accounts were fraudulently obtained from two separate victims, the police said.
The victims, PT Visindo Anugrahtama from Indonesia and Dominant Australia Pty Ltd based in Australia, had been cheated through email impersonation scams and transferred a total of S$128,650.05 into Tan’s accounts.
TAN WENT TO MALAYSIA TO DEPOSIT MONEY
On May 27, 2015, Tan received S$47,392.20 in her Maybank account from the Indonesia victim.
Two days later, she withdrew S$47,000 in cash and converted it to Malaysian ringgit.
She kept the remaining money for herself as Dieter told her it was payment for money that he previously borrowed from her, said court documents.
Tan travelled to Johor Bahru, Malaysia via Woodlands Checkpoint and deposited the money into an account through an ATM machine, despite not knowing the account holder.
She also did not declare that she was moving more than S$20,000 in cash out of Singapore, said the police.
About two years later on Apr 25, 2017, Tan’s CIMB account received S$81,257.85 from the Australian victim.
The next day, following Dieter's instructions, Tan waited at a bustop in Bedok where two men rode up to her on a motorcycle and handed her a mobile phone.
Recognising Dieter's voice on the line, she was then instructed to hand S$46,000 in cash in an envelope to the men.
A total of S$35,363.56 was eventually recovered by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).
TAN PREVIOUSLY ISSUED LETTER OF ADVICE
Before these offences, Tan had been investigated in 2014 for receiving S$7,000 derived from fraud in a separate Maybank account, said the police.
This happened after Dieter visited Singapore and asked for Tan's account details so that he could return the money he had borrowed from her.
According to court documents, Dieter asked Tan to receive S$7,000 in her Maybank account and transfer the money to a CIMB account "maintained by his friend in Malaysia" as he wanted to "avoid high bank fees".
Tan did so and was later called up for police investigations.
She was issued a letter of advice (LOA) notifying her that the funds she received were "derived from fraud perpetrated against victims in Singapore", said court documents.
Despite that, Tan continued to have dealings with Dieter.
“Tan persisted in fulfilling her role as a money mule even after being cautioned against participating in such activity,” the police added.
Anyone convicted of a money laundering offence may be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to S$500,000.
Those found guilty of moving more than S$20,000 in cash in or out of Singapore without a declaration face a jail term of up to three years, a maximum fine of S$50,000, or both.