No bail for final 4 men in S$1 billion money laundering case; court rejects some requests by the defence
Zhang Ruijin, Su Jianfeng, Vang Shuiming and Wang Baosen will be remanded for another eight days.
SINGAPORE: The remaining four men whose cases were heard on Wednesday (Aug 23) in relation to a massive money laundering probe were remanded for another eight days, with their lawyers making various requests to the court.
This follows a similar decision by the court earlier in the day involving the other accused individuals in the S$1 billion (US$736 million) money laundering probe. Prosecutors warned that there might be “collusion” and possible “contamination” of evidence if the accused were released.
The last four men whose cases were mentioned in the State Courts on Wednesday are 44-year-old Chinese national Zhang Ruijin, 35-year-old Ni-Vanuatu national Su Jianfeng, 42-year-old Turkiye national Vang Shuiming and 31-year-old Chinese national Wang Baosen.
One of the defence lawyers tried to ask for his client to be bailed out and for 15 minutes to speak with him, while another asked for his client's wife to be granted a visit.
The court rejected these requests, agreeing instead with the prosecution that the scope and depth of the case required remand for further investigations.
The defence lawyers can also speak to their clients a day before the next hearing, but no earlier, the court heard.
Zhang was arrested on Aug 15 in a Sentosa Cove bungalow along with co-accused Lin Baoying, the only woman among the accused. He faces a charge of forgery for the purpose of cheating.
The prosecution said several properties and vehicles under Zhang's name had been seized, as well as a very large sum of cash - at least S$14 million.
This was found in a residence he shared with Lin, said Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh.
He said there was some evidence that there were "connections" among the accused, and some who are "out of jurisdiction".
The defence said they understood the need for remand.
Zhang is represented by Mr Loo Choon Chiaw from Loo & Partners, who had been approached by the accused's elder brother.
Zhang told the court in Mandarin: "I want to see my counsel. I want to see my family members. I want to make a phone call and contact my family members."
The judge told him to make any requests through the investigating officer. Zhang said the officer had told him to make them to the court.
The judge then heard his requests and rejected them.
Su was arrested in a Good Class Bungalow along Third Avenue near Bukit Timah and has one charge of money laundering against him.
In making his request for further remand, the prosecutor said approximately S$1.4 million in cash was seized in Su's case.
Su's lawyer tried to ask for his client's wife to visit him under police supervision, but the prosecutor said they could not agree as Su's wife is also a witness in investigations.
Su was remanded with permission to be taken out for investigations, like the rest.
Su is represented by Mr Ravindran Ramasamy of CNPLaw at the request of his wife.
Vang was arrested in a Good Class Bungalow along Bishopsgate in the Tanglin area and faces a charge of using a forged document.
His case began with his former lawyer discharging himself and Mr Wendell Wong from Drew & Napier taking over.
Mr Wong argued at length for bail, saying the offence his client faced is a bailable offence, with the burden resting on the prosecution to explain why bail is being refused.
He tendered the Commercial Affairs Department's own press release, issued when the case first broke, in which the police cited "extensive investigations".
He used this to say that investigations cannot be at the "early stage" like the prosecution suggested.
In response, Mr Koh, the prosecutor, said being remanded for nine days in an investigation of "this scale and complexity" is not that long a time.
The judge agreed with the prosecution, saying that a risk of collusion between co-accused is still pertinent at this early stage of investigations.
Mr Wong also argued at length to be allowed 15 minutes with his client.
The prosecution objected, saying that the balance between the rights of an accused person and public interest for investigations to be carried out must be tipped in the favour of public interest.
The judge said that while Mr Wong's request for 15 minutes might sound reasonable, 15 minutes may mean a lot of time in bringing the accused person out of police custody and to be processed.
"This will constitute to some extent an interruption to the investigative activities," he added.
He said that this was not a punishment of the accused for his alleged offence, but merely a part of the legal procedure to ensure investigations could be carried out expeditiously.
Wang was arrested in a condominium along Tomlinson Road in the Tanglin area and was charged with one count of money laundering.
He is represented by Mr Adrian Wee, who is similarly representing another co-accused, 34-year-old Cypriot Wang Dehai.
Wang Dehai had told the court earlier on Wednesday that he was being "illegally detained".
All 10 accused individuals in this case will return to court on Aug 30.