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Bangladeshi tycoon’s alleged US$1 billion money laundering empire in Singapore exposed

In early August, reports surfaced of Bangladeshi mogul, Mohammed Saiful Alam, owner of S Alam Group, amassing a business empire in Singapore worth around US$1 billion without required permissions from Bangladesh Bank (BB). In light of accusations involving secret property acquisitions, the Bangladesh High Court has demanded an in-depth inquiry.



SINGAPORE: Last Tuesday, the Singapore Police Force’s operation against a money laundering group that saw ten individuals arrested and assets with an estimated combined value of around S$1 billion (equivalent to US$737 million) seized sent shockwaves across the city-state.

What many in Singapore are not aware of, however, is a shocking development that took place earlier in the same month, where a Bangladeshi tycoon, Mohammed Saiful Alam, the owner of S Alam Group, has reportedly established a business empire in Singapore worth approximately US$1 billion, without obtaining any permission from Bangladesh Bank (BB) for investments or fund transfers abroad — an offence that carries a penalty of up to 12 years in jail and a fine double the amount transferred abroad.

The report entitled “S Alam’s Aladdin’s Lamp,” published by Bangladeshi English-language daily newspaper, The Daily Star on 4 August, highlighted that although the central bank had granted permission for 17 companies to invest abroad, the S Alam Group’s name was notably missing from the list.

It has been alleged that Saiful Alam acquired multiple properties, including hotels and homes, in Singapore while attempting to conceal his involvement.

The publication pointed out that as of 10 January this year, the BB sanctioned around US$40.15 million for global foreign investments, a far cry from Saiful’s reported US$411.8 million on two hotels and a retail space in Singapore since 2009.

The report indicated that Saiful Alam and his wife were listed as directors of Wilkinson International Pte Ltd, a company registered in Singapore. This company had assets valued at nearly USD 1 billion in 2021 and exhibited expenditures exceeding its earnings.

“While financing could mean both equity and borrowing, analysts looking at the statements noted that since Alam and his wife were the sole shareholders at least until the end of 2020, this amount would potentially have to be bank borrowings or cash loans, and not equity.” – The Daily Star

The report also highlighted that the couple possesses properties in Singapore that have been transferred to trust funds.

Since Singapore abolished estate duty in 2008, income distributions from Singaporean trusts are tax-exempt. Additionally, successors can be added as beneficiaries of a Singaporean trust without incurring any estate duty.

Following the report and public outcry, the Bangladesh High Court ordered a comprehensive investigation on 6 August into the alleged establishment of Saiful’s business empire in Singapore.

According to the Bangladeshi daily newspaper, The Business Standard, the bench, led by Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Khizir Hayat, directed the Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) to conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter and submit a comprehensive report within two months from 6 August 2023.

The High Court has also summoned the editor of The Daily Star to present the documents that formed the basis of the published report within the following four weeks.

ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said that the court had scheduled the next hearing for 10 October.

Transparency International Bangladesh’s executive director stated that this scenario might indicate illicit financial transfers, particularly if legitimate foreign income sources are lacking.

It was revealed that S Alam Group’s chairman and managing director, Saiful, resides in Singapore, according to newspaper reports.

Recovering smuggled capital from Bangladesh is time consuming

On top of the alleged monies transferred by Saiful Alam, around US$1 billion owned by a former minister convicted of war crimes, is alleged to be residing in a Singaporean bank.

This was said by ACC lawyer Khurshid to The Business Standard back in 2020. Although this information is confirmed by ACC and other agencies, no official acknowledgement has been made.

The lawyer said the laundered capital is recovered through due legal process and mutual cooperation between the countries.

When questioned about the complexities in reclaiming the laundered money, Khurshid mentioned, “Typically, bank accounts have designated nominees, yet this particular account lacks one.”

Furthermore, he said, “No claims on the funds have been made by his heirs, hindering our efforts to recover the money.”

Insiders suggest that relevant agencies are steadily progressing as per the legal protocols.

The ACC representative clarified their limited involvement, saying they cannot act on the funds in Singapore unless the owner seeks them. The chance of recovering the funds under these circumstances is slim.

However, Khurshid added, “We’ve consulted the legal frameworks and alerted the Singaporean government about the nature of the funds. They’ve requested the necessary documentation from us.”

However, no public report or update on the matter has appeared to have been published since then.

A report from Global Financial Integrity in 2019 suggests that US$52.74 billion has been laundered from Bangladesh over the past seven years, primarily through import-export fraud.

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This has been going on for decades. It is the PAP’s accepted mode of operations to attract illegal monies and dress it up as investments to citizens. It was rumoured that Marcos and Suharto, parked their illegal gains here during LKY’S tenure. So the son is following what his father taught him Both do not care about how this affects the millions of people in other countries like it did in Malaysia because of 1MDB. The nos. are only going to increase as the PAP do not care about the source of funds and the banks are also the same.… Read more »

I guess Lau Goh overdid himself when he said we’re going to achieve ‘Swiss Standards’.
I think he meant for the criminal syndicates rather than our local working Joe.
And now all these skeletons coming out? Under whose watch? And they want us to trust another PAP dog to watch our reserves? Think hard think again.

I think many Singaporeans don’t know that the largest FDI into SG is from places like the Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, not US or China (though US/China/etc do bring understandably sizeable investments here). Our MTI doesn’t question this, hor?

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i guess that’s the SWISS STANDARD that lao goh was referring to?
many super rich would like to open bank accounts there for the secrecy!!!

Maybe all such “news” are made up just to smear the establishment’s”whiter than white”international image and reputation.Maybe the Pappies should use without hesitation POFMA to silence and discredit those idiots for spreading falsehoods on our “beloved” and” whiter than white “governance.😠😡So sad such if such things really happened in SG haven!!!

With this $b money laundering case involving many countries here in Singapore, confirm TS will be affected and he will not be elected by the people to become the president. He was a FM before. LW will also be affected by this scandal, since he is the current FM. Will he confirmed to be the next PM? Of course, Shan, who is the M.HA, will also and greatly affected by this case, plus yesterday bomb threats in 18 locations. Will he lose his ministerial post in the coming GE? These ministers can tell the world how good they are, how… Read more »

Singapore, … the mega~melting pot for all ill-gotten “gold” !!!

Move over Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Switzerland, … and kowtow to new Kings of Kleaning Monies !!!

Is Singapore getting famous as the hotbed for Asia’s dirty money washing machine?

If SG really care to dig, I’m sure there are many many more cases that will send more shockwaves to the world.

Really how much such dirty money are parked inside here is anybody’s guess

The melting “white” snow cap of Mt Everett is slowly exposing the dirty laundry in Singapore.