Woman gets jail for buying semi-detached properties for 3 foreigners before they obtained citizenship
SINGAPORE: A woman was sentenced to two weeks' jail on Thursday (Jan 13) for buying three semi-detached properties on behalf of foreigners, intending to transfer ownership of the property to them once they obtained Singapore citizenship.
Singaporean Song Fanrong, 49, was given the jail term for one count under the Residential Property Act of purchasing an estate in a restricted residential property with the intention of holding it in trust for a foreigner.
Another two charges for the other two properties were considered in sentencing.
Song, a former pre-school owner who was jailed for contempt of court in 2017, got to know China national Wang Chen in 2013.
As he wanted to emigrate from China to Singapore and own a home there, Song recommended an estate known as Belgravia Villas to him. This is a freehold private residential cluster housing estate developed by Fairview Development in the Seletar and Yio Chu Kang area, classified as a restricted residential property under the Residential Property Act.
Knowing that Wang would not be eligible to buy the property in his own name as he was a foreigner, Song offered to buy it on his behalf and transfer ownership to him once he obtained Singapore citizenship.
Song was herself originally from China and later became a Singapore citizen.
Wang paid S$1.8 million to Song via a bank transfer to her China bank account after signing a trust agreement with her, and Song entered into a sales and purchase agreement with the developer of Belgravia Villas in September 2014 for a unit.
That same year, Song also bought two other units in the same housing estate for two other Chinese nationals: Chen Xiaopu and Liu Guohui. She similarly held the properties in her name while the men gave her the funds for the purchase price.
The three China nationals subsequently stopped paying for the properties, defaulting on all three sale and purchase agreements when their progressive payments became due but went unpaid.
The Commercial Affairs Department received a report from the Singapore Land Authority about Song in August 2017, indicating that she had purchased four semi-detached properties that were restricted.
After the agreements were defaulted on, Fairview Developments deducted the contractual penalties from the sums already paid by the foreigners through Song. The rights of Song and the foreigners were extinguished, and Fairview Developments surrendered the remaining S$1.6 million. The sum was seized by CAD in January 2018.
Song's lawyer said she was merely assisting her three foreign friends. She is now bankrupt.
She was allowed to begin her jail term on Jan 27.
Chen faces pending charges and will return to court for a further mention of his case on Jan 24.
The penalties for buying a restricted residential property on behalf of a foreigner are a maximum jail term of three years, a fine of up to S$100,000, or both.