Jail for men who helped smuggle suspects in Tradenation luxury goods scam out of Singapore in lorry
SINGAPORE: Two logistics workers who conspired to help smuggle the suspects in the multimillion-dollar Tradenation luxury goods scam out of Singapore in a lorry were sentenced to jail on Thursday (Sep 29).
Mohamed Alias, 40, and 38-year-old Mohamad Fazli Abdul Rahman received a year's jail each. They each pleaded guilty to two charges under the Immigration Act of abetting a person to leave Singapore illegally.
The court heard that 26-year-old Singaporean Pi Jiapeng and 27-year-old Thai national Pansuk Siriwipa were under investigation by the Singapore Police Force at the time over a series of alleged cheating cases.
These cases were in relation to Pi and Pansuk's companies, which were in the business of trading luxury products. According to past reports, at least 180 police reports involving the two companies Tradenation and Tradeluxury were made from June.
As part of investigations, the couple surrendered their passports to the police in June this year.
Around Jul 3, an unidentified acquaintance of Fazli's, known only as Anson, contacted him. He asked Fazli to find a driver to smuggle two people out of Singapore the next day.
Fazli agreed to do so in exchange for 16,000 ringgit (S$5,025). That same day, he called Alias, who was his colleague in the same Malaysian logistics company. Alias, a Malaysian, worked as a lorry driver making deliveries from Malaysia to Singapore.
Fazli, who is also Malaysian and based there, asked Alias if could smuggle two people out of Singapore via Tuas Checkpoint. Alias agreed to do so for a fee.
On Jul 4, 2022, Alias drove a Malaysia-registered lorry to a self-storage facility in Ang Mo Kio to perform a delivery order. He shared his location with Fazli.
On Anson's instruction, Fazli told Alias to wait for the couple there. Around 5pm that day, Pi and Pansuk arrived and told Alias they were there to take a ride in the lorry.
Alias understood from this that they were the couple to be smuggled. The pair sat in the passenger seats, and Alias drove them to Tuas Checkpoint, alerting Fazli of the successful pick-up.
As they neared Tuas Checkpoint, Alias told the couple to hide in the rear container of the lorry, and they did so.
At the checkpoint, the immigration officer did the standard clearance for the lorry to leave Singapore, and no spot check on the container was conducted.
Alias drove out of Singapore and entered Johor Bahru with the couple in the lorry. He then called Fazli to report the update to him, and was instructed to let the couple alight at a flyover near Johor Checkpoint.
The couple alighted and was later picked up by an unidentified driver. On Jul 5, 2022, Fazli received 16,000 ringgit from Anson via bank transfer. He handed 11,000 ringgit to Alias in cash.
Police investigations into the couple identified Alias and Fazli and warrants of arrest were issued. Alias was arrested on Jul 14, 2022, after he was detained at Tuas Checkpoint.
Fazli was arrested by the Malaysian police later that month and handed over to SPF. The couple was arrested in Johor Bahru on Aug 11 and taken to Singapore.
Both Fazli and Alias were unrepresented. Fazli said in mitigation that he was supporting his parents and needed to take his mother to the hospital every month. He also said his wife was not working and that he had three children, adding that he needed to pay for his house and car.
Alias also said his wife was not working and that he had three young children and elderly parents to support. He said he was deeply remorseful for his actions and had given full cooperation during investigations.
District Judge Bala Reddy noted that the accused persons' conduct was "fuelled by pecuniary gain". He agreed with the prosecutor that the pair had helped not one but two people leave Singapore illegally.
Investigations and proceedings against the couple are ongoing.