SINGAPORE: The Second Minister for Home Affairs, Mrs Josephine Teo, revealed that all ten arrested individuals involved in the multi-billion dollar money laundering investigation, held employment or dependent’s passes in the city-state.
Crucially, none of them appeared on Interpol’s red notice list when they applied for these passes.
Interpol issues these red notices to alert global law enforcement agencies seeking assistance locating and provisionally detaining individuals for extradition or other legal actions.
While addressing the parliament, Mrs Teo, who also serves as the Minister for Communication and Information, was responding to inquiries from Members of Parliament.
Their questions centred on Singapore’s vetting processes for immigration pass applications.
This included queries about strengthening scrutiny for potential high-risk applicants, such as those with criminal records, wanted statuses, or those suspected of using false identities.
Previously, on 18 August, the Ministry of Manpower had disclosed that the detainees, nine men and one woman aged between 31 and 44, possessed Employment and Dependant Passes. Importantly, none of these individuals are Singaporean citizens or permanent residents.
The detainees, all of Fujian descent but hailing from various countries, were charged in court on a Wednesday evening.
Three of them are Chinese nationals, with the remaining consisting of three Cambodians, two Cypriots, one Turk, and one individual from Vanuatu. They face charges ranging from forgery and money laundering to resisting arrest.
Furthermore, 12 individuals are currently aiding the police with the investigation, with another eight being actively sought after.
Mrs Teo confirmed that the scope of the investigation is expansive, encompassing Singaporeans, permanent residents, and others with different types of immigration passes.
MPs queried the collaboration between Singapore and foreign governments to validate information provided by immigration pass applicants. Mrs Teo acknowledged that while checks are performed when suspicions arise, it’s impractical to vet every single application given the sheer volume.
She emphasized that while no system is completely immune to abuse, it is vital not to overcomplicate the process for the majority who are innocent.
“The goal is to reduce risks, enhance our detection capabilities, but not compromise legitimate, lawful transactions,” she said.
The arrested individuals have been denied bail due to their high flight risk and potential interference with evidence.
Mrs Teo also informed the parliament about the escalating value of the seized assets, now valued at more than S$2.8 billion (US$2.04 billion).
This figure has seen a substantial increase from the S$1 billion announced in August, which later was updated to over S$2.4 billion in September.
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