Billion-dollar money laundering case: Probe expands to precious stone and metal traders; 24 more suspects named
SINGAPORE: A S$1 billion money laundering case has expanded to include precious stones and metal traders, with 24 more suspects being named, according to a notice sent on Sunday (Aug 27) by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).
The notice was sent to the Gem Traders Association of Singapore (GTAS) and seen by CNA. It contained the names of 34 individuals, among them the 10 foreign nationals arrested earlier this month.
Twelve other people are assisting with investigations while eight are currently wanted by the police.
“These persons are believed to have connections amongst themselves. All the persons involved are neither Singapore citizens nor permanent residents,” said the notice, which was issued by MinLaw’s Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism Division.
MinLaw urged dealers of precious metals and stones to review their “transactions and business relations to assess if there are any reasonable grounds to suspect criminal conduct, including money laundering in connection to the police investigation”.
It also reminded traders of their obligation to file a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) as soon as possible, if they are aware of transactions related to the 34 names or suspect any links to criminal conduct.
Gem Traders Association of Singapore president Mohamed Bilal said the body regularly reminds members to share information, warnings and advice from the Law Ministry.
“Our members are bound by the laws of the Singapore government … We only accept new members if they have legitimate referrals,” he said, adding that Singaporean dealers follow the law very closely.
On Aug 15, more than 400 police officers mounted simultaneous raids at multiple locations across Singapore in one of the country’s largest police probes into money laundering and forgery offences.
Ten foreigners with Cypriot, Turkish, Chinese, Cambodian and Ni-Vanuatu nationalities were arrested, with those who were not of Chinese nationality found to be in possession of foreign passports believed to be issued by China and other countries.
At least two of the 10 suspects are said to be wanted by police in China for various offences.
“Most of the perpetrators of this crime are foreigners. Foreigners bring precious stones into Singapore with a temporary import permit from the Singapore Customs. They can handle those items for up to 90 days,” said Mr Mohamed.
“How can foreigners sell goods in Singapore without a business registration (ACRA) without a work permit and proper receipt?
“I urge the Law Ministry to monitor the foreign traders and tighten the rules for them,” he said.