SINGAPORE: A pair of Singaporean siblings was jailed for 16 months on Thursday (Jan 11) for receiving and laundering US$320,000 on behalf of a Kuala Lumpur-based syndicate.
Shaqilah Mohamad Rafie, 25, and her brother Rausyan Sajjad Mohamad Rafie, 24, pleaded guilty on Thursday evening to two charges each of receiving stolen property – hundreds of thousands of dollars the Malaysian syndicate had swindled from a Barbados-based company called Faith Universal Investments Limited.
The company lodged a report with Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department on Mar 12, 2016, saying that it had received spoof emails tricking it into wiring money to a Singapore-registered company, Khoo Repairs.
On Mar 3 and 7, US$150,000 and US$170,000 was transferred to the Singapore company.
It all started when Shaqilah moved to Kuala Lumpur to live with a Nigerian man she met online sometime in 2015, a District Court heard. The man, Adewale Oladokun David, told Shaqilah he was part of a syndicate which engaged in extortion and ran “love scams, scams on Alibaba and wire scams,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang said.
Adewale urged Shaqilah to open a Singapore bank account for him, but this required the submission of “many documents she was unable to provide,” the prosecutor said. Shaqilah turned to her brother, then a full-time national serviceman in the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
She told her brother about Adewale and the syndicate, and asked if he had any friends with company bank accounts interested in earning “quick money”.
Rausyan approached his colleague, Nicholas Ryan Khoo, who had set up an air-conditioning business but could not secure a government grant to get it off the ground.
Khoo, 22, agreed to allow his company account – Khoo Repairs – to be used by the syndicate to receive stolen money. He would withdraw the cash and hand it over to Rausyan, who would pass it on to his sister.
Though Shaqilah had left Adewale by this time, she helped to pass the cash on to other people, who would take it to Malaysia. Khoo earned at least S$11,200 for his role, while the siblings pocketed about S$9,000 in total.
Shaqilah, who earned about S$1,700, spent the money on food and clothing. Rausyan spent his share – about S$7,300 – on his parents, his girlfriend and her mother, as well as on himself. He handed over another S$500 to the CAD during the investigation, said the prosecutor.
She sought a 20-month jail term for each charge faced by the siblings.
Shaqilah’s lawyer R Kalamohan urged the court to consider her humble family background. Shaqilah was forced “to carry the responsibility of providing for her family at a young age,” the lawyer said, after both parents were retrenched.
At one point, the family nearly lost their home because they could not afford to pay the mortgage, Mr Kalamohan said. He added that Shaqilah had struggled to end an abusive relationship with Adewale, who threatened to harm her family, hit her, cut her with a penknife and had thrown a hot iron on her back.
“She felt that she had no choice but to carry out the transactions,” the lawyer said, adding that he had submitted photographs of Shaqilah’s injuries from the abuse to the court.
Meanwhile, Rausyan’s lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy said his client had initially refused to help Shaqilah, but felt compelled to once he found out that Adewale was abusing his sister. “(Rausyan) couldn’t bear to leave his sister in grave danger,” Mr Ganapathy said.
For receiving stolen property, the siblings could have been sentenced to up to five years’ jail per charge and fined.