SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (16 Aug), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) announced a raid involving over 400 officers across the island in a crackdown on money laundering and forgery activities, resulting in the historic seizure of assets amounting to roughly S$1 billion (US$736 million), which shocked the entire Island.
Ten individuals, with diverse nationalities but a common Fujian heritage, were arrested and charged for forgery, money laundering, and resisting arrest.
The identities of these detainees were revealed by local Chinese media outlets. Among them, there is a wide range of nationalities represented, including Cypriot, Turkish, Chinese, Cambodian, and Ni-Vanuatu.
In addition, a dozen others are actively cooperating with the ongoing investigations, while another eight individuals remain on the police’s list of wanted suspects.
In a statement, SPF affirmed, “These persons are believed to have connections among themselves. All the persons involved are neither Singapore citizens nor permanent residents.”
Earlier, a X (formerly Twitter) post revealed that large sums of money were funneled into Citibank accounts by dozens of Fujianese individuals using underground banks.
It was said that the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) had established a covert task force more than three months prior, with a primary focus on the activities of Chinese nationals from Fujian province.
The SPF unveiled that this particular group is suspected of laundering the proceeds derived from their organized criminal activities abroad, spanning from scams to online gambling enterprises.
Shockingly, it appears that some of the arrested suspects had been in Singapore for an extended period, dating back as early as 2021.
Lianhe Zaobao reported that among these arrested, there is alleged involvement of a Chinese national from Fujian who, in June of the previous year, acquired 20 units in bulk at CanningHill Piers for an estimated S$85 million.
The 20 units that were bought in June last year include 10 3-room flats priced between $3.1 million and $3.3 million, and ten 4-room units priced between $5.3 million and $5.6 million.
Zaobao reported that the money used to pay for the units was transferred from Indonesia into Singapore, according to industry sources familiar with the deal.
One of the arrested, Su Baolin, paid S$39.33 million for a Sentosa Cove bungalow in April 2021
Among the arrested suspects on 15 August is Su Baolin, a 41-year-old Cambodian national, who is currently facing charges related to the use of forged documents.
In April 2021, Su reportedly paid S$39.33 million for a Sentosa Cove bungalow with a sea-facing view.
A search on Facebook source revealed that Su, originally from Xiamen City in Fujian Province, possesses Cambodian citizenship and holds stakes in two Singapore-incorporated companies, one in software development/programming and the other in e-commerce.
Su’s website describes him as a “Visionary entrepreneur in E-commerce and IT Solutions”
A search for Su’s company, Xinbao Investment, revealed that the website has already been taken down.
However, utilizing the online archive Wayback machine, Gutzy managed to access the original introduction that was posted on Su’s company website.
The excerpt concerning Su is as follows:
“Mr Su Baolin, the founder of Xiamen Xinbao Investment Holdings (厦门新宝投资控股) and Meinin E-Commerce (美宁电子商务), possesses a rich background in e-commerce and IT solutions.
He has engaged in numerous financial and real estate investments in Southeast Asia.
Meinin E-Commerce, one of the core founding members in China, commenced operations in Xiamen in 2009.
It is an e-commerce supply chain service company that integrates online sales, internet marketing, brand representation, as well as related warehousing and logistics distribution.
Subsequently, Su Baolin established Xinbao Investment Holdings in Singapore, personally leading individuals from various walks of life into successful ventures in the next phase of business. He has also diversified his investment portfolio through various means.
A steadfast believer in entrepreneurial spirit and an active investor, Mr Su remains committed to these principles.”
According to a police statement, Su was arrested on Tuesday at a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) located on Nassim Road, during which he was purportedly discovered with a foreign passport suspected to have been issued by China.
Items confiscated during the operation encompassed cash exceeding S$777,000, along with 33 luxury bags and watches, as well as 75 pieces of jewellery.
Police authorities have subsequently frozen three associated bank accounts, with a collective balance surpassing S$2.4 million.
Fujianese Cypriot suspect alleged to have sponsored President’s charity golf tournament
Meanwhile, as reported by the Singapore-based online Chinese media outlet “Singapore Eyes” (新加坡眼), they claim to have had prior interactions with Su Haijin, a 40-year-old Cypriot national who is also among the ten arrested individuals from Tuesday’s operation.
According to the source, Su Haijin communicates with a distinctive Southern Min (闽南) accent, a dialect commonly spoken in Fujian.
The post disclosed that Su resides in an upscale mansion within Ewart Park in Bukit Timah and is the owner of a Rolls-Royce, which serves as his means of transportation.
Allegedly, the market value of Su’s mansion exceeds S$80 million. Given his foreign status, it is speculated that a rental arrangement is more plausible than an outright purchase.
Reportedly, Su Haijin actively engages in social activities, having purportedly sponsored the Singapore President’s Charity Golf Tournament. He also offers support to various associations, and in return, he has been honoured with the title of honorary chairman.
Su was charged with one count of resisting arrest, in which the police statement indicated that during the arrest, officers outside Su’s bedroom identified themselves and instructed him to open the door.
Su then allegedly leapt from the second-floor balcony of his GCB and was later found by the police hiding in a drain. The jump resulted in fractures to his hands and legs, and he was taken to the hospital while conscious.
On the flip side, The Singapore Eye reported that another suspect, Vang Shuiming, a 42-year-old Turkish national, whose surname might potentially be Wang (王).
It is noted that he was reportedly sought by Chinese authorities within the country last year.
In May 2022, the Bosan (博山) Sub-Bureau of the Zibo (淄博) Municipal Public Security Bureau in China effectively dismantled a network group involved in the development and maintenance of profit-oriented gambling websites, applications, and online gambling platforms.
This network group not only provided or leased these platforms to third parties but also operated them for casino activities, leading to considerable financial gains.
A total of 131 suspects were apprehended in connection with this operation, and more than 10 million yuan worth of funds linked to the case were seized, frozen, or recovered.
Currently, there are nine suspects still involved in this criminal activity who are unlawfully residing overseas. Among them is Wang Shuiming from Xiamen, Fujian Province.
Probing the puzzling duration of suspects’ undisturbed stay in Singapore before arrest
While an earlier Twitter source alleged that Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) had discreetly formed a task force over three months ago, targeting the activities of these foreign nationals from Fujian province, it remains uncertain whether Singaporean authorities had been monitoring their actions even earlier.
The post, authored by a user named Vanessa Gao, emphasized an upcoming visit by a delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, scheduled for August 21st.
The account also stated that Singapore engaged in comprehensive discussions with both the Chinese embassy and the Chinese Liaison Office in the city. However, the extent of involvement from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security remains unclear.
According to Vanessa Gao, this visit could potentially be linked to CAD’s ongoing investigations.
— VanessaCao 🌈 (@vc_btxcap) August 16, 2023
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) highlighted that previous intelligence and data derived from suspicious transaction reports (STRs) submitted by Singaporean financial institutions (FIs) had alerted CAD to questionable activities within the financial sector.
Conversely, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) asserted that it commenced its investigation based on tips regarding alleged illicit activities, particularly those involving the use of counterfeit documents, aiming to trace the source of funds within Singaporean bank accounts.
Further in-depth investigations, fortified by intelligence and scrutiny of STRs, pinpointed a group of foreign nationals suspected of money laundering.
These funds are believed to originate from their foreign organized crime endeavours, ranging from scams to online gambling.
Nevertheless, the question persists: How long did it take Singaporean authorities to identify these suspicious activities carried out by foreigners on Singaporean soil?