SINGAPORE: The revelation that a Shanghai-born Singaporean resident is affiliated with 185 companies as a director, secretary, and shareholder has raised concerns.
This concern is further heightened by the revelation that among these companies, a minimum of nine have direct ties to three of the ten individuals who were apprehended last month in connection with a colossal S$1 billion money laundering case and subsequently charged.
These nine companies have Su Haijin, a 40-year-old Cypriot national; Su Baolin, a 41-year-old Cambodian national; and Vang Shuiming (万/王水明), a 42-year-old Turkish national, listed either as directors or shareholders.
The three individuals, originally from Fujian China, are facing various charges, including money laundering, forgery, and resisting arrest.
Furthermore, the 41-year-old Singaporean, who relocated to the city-state from Shanghai in his twenties, has reportedly been involved with approximately 400 companies since 2014.
On Sunday (3 Sept), The Straits Times reported that a Bedok resident known as J.J., operating a firm providing secretarial services, has previously held positions as director, secretary, or shareholder in an astounding 224 companies spanning various industries, including investment, technology, consultancy, and pharmaceutical trade.
Records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) affirm J.J.’s association with the same nine companies mentioned earlier.
Significantly, his name appeared more than once within two of these companies, suggesting his multifaceted roles in those firms.
It’s noteworthy that a third of the 224 companies have been delisted from the Acra business registry.
When The ST attempted to contact the 41-year-old Bedok resident on 23 August, he was not at his Housing Board (HDB) flat.
During a subsequent phone conversation that evening, J.J. disclosed that he had business ties with one of the suspects.
Involvement with approximately 400 companies since 2014
In his conversation with the ST, J.J. explained that the suspect had convinced him to invest in the suspect’s company, saying, “He (the suspect) asked me to take care of his company. But I have never taken a single cent or shares.”
J.J. emphasized in Mandarin that he plans to file a police report because he has received nothing in return for his involvement.
He admitted to contacting the individual a week before the islandwide police operations, saying, “I showed him how much he owed me, but he told me he wasn’t able to pay me back.”
“But when I read the news of his arrest, I saw that the police had seized cash from him. So I suspect he had the money but did not want to return what he owed me. I am a victim here.”
When asked about his extensive involvement with approximately 400 companies since 2014, J.J. defended his actions, stating, “So what if I’m involved in all these companies? I do secretarial work for companies and they are all legitimate. I’m not doing anything wrong.”
“I live in an HDB flat and drive a second-hand car, which I took out a loan for.”
J.J. mentioned that he was introduced to the individual by Su Haijin, despite denying any substantial business connections with Su.
The ST uncovered that J.J. holds secretarial positions in Yihao Cyber Technologies, Daily Glory International, and Aiqinhai Investment, three companies where Su Haijin was listed as a director.
Su was also a shareholder in Meining (Asia) International Electronic Commerce and Sg-Gree, firms where J.J. was appointed as director. Notably, Su Haijin is the younger sibling of another individual who was apprehended, namely Su Baolin.
Su Baolin is 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), and made a director of Sg-Gree on June 1, 2021, the same day his brother Su Haijin was appointed a shareholder of the company.
J.J. is also reportedly the listed secretary of Singapore company Zhuo Chi Technology, linking him to Vang Shuiming.
Vang was a director and shareholder at Zhuo Chi Technology Company. Earlier, Vang was reportedly sought by Chinese authorities within the country last year for alleged involvement in a profit-oriented online gambling network.
Acra: “Not common for individuals to hold numerous directorships in Singapore”
According to Acra, it is uncommon for individuals to manage numerous directorships in Singapore, although there are currently no specific limits in place.
A spokesperson stated that the business registry is actively working on proposed amendments to both the Companies Act and the Acra Act, with the aim of restricting the number of nominee directorships that a single individual can hold.
This proposed legislation, expected to be presented in Parliament in 2024, may also entail higher financial penalties for corporate service providers found in violation of money laundering and terrorism financing regulations.
Regarding these efforts, Acra emphasized that Singapore adopts a comprehensive, government-wide approach to combat illicit activities such as money laundering and terrorism financing.
“Various agencies playing distinct roles in ensuring Singapore’s status as a trusted financial and business centre”.
Acra also stated that it proactively identifies, monitors, and deregisters inactive companies.
The spokesperson mentioned that Acra employs data analytics tools to pinpoint individuals likely to serve as nominee directors for companies potentially involved in improper activities.
Extensive reviews and checks are conducted on individuals at higher risk.
“All directors, regardless of the number of directorships held, are required to discharge their duties responsibly, with honesty and reasonable diligence.”
“Those who fail to do so can face enforcement actions, including disqualification and debarment,” the spokesman said.
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