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At least five accused in S$2.8b money laundering case linked to charitable donations in Singapore

Among the 10 individuals implicated in the S$2.8 billion money laundering case, several have contributed to charitable organizations in the past three years.

Notably, one of the accused, Zhang Ruijin even cited his philanthropic efforts during a bail hearing on August 30.

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SINGAPORE: Several of the individuals implicated in the S$2.8 billion money laundering case have reportedly made donations to various charitable organizations and social service agencies over the past three years.

Singapore state media The Straits Times reported out of the 10 accused in the high-profile case, at least five have allegedly made charitable donations in the past three years.

Notable donations include:

  • S$72,450 to Rainbow Centre, an operator of special education schools.
  • S$15,000 to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).
  • S$5,000 to Lions Befrienders, an agency assisting the elderly.

According to a statement issued by the Rainbow Centre, three accused in the S$2.8 money laundering case, Vang Shuiming (or Wang Shuiming), Su Haijin and Zhang Ruijin, donated a total of S$72,450 between 2020 and 2023.

Notably, Vang donated a total of S$30,000 to the charity centre, while Su and Zhang donated S$25,350 and S$17,100 separately.

Meanwhile, NKF’s annual reports mention that Su Haiijin’s brother, Su Baolin was a donor who contributed at least S$5,000 annually from 2020 to 2022.

They are among the 10 suspects who were arrested in an islandwide anti-money laundering probe on 15 August mounted by the police in an operation that has been described by the prosecution as unprecedented in size and scope.

A billion dollars worth of assets were seized – including luxury cars, houses and cash.

The ten accused, including nine men and one woman aged between 31 and 44,  have different nationalities but share a common origin in Fujian.

At 42 years old, Vang, currently holding Turkish nationality, is facing a total of five charges, including one count of using a forged document and four counts of money laundering.

Su Haijin, a 40-year-old Cypriot national, faces charges of both money laundering and resisting arrest.

In contrast, his brother, Su Baolin, aged 41 and a Cambodian national, is confronted with two charges related to forgery.

Zhang Ruijin, a 44-year-old Chinese national, is currently contending with three charges associated with forgery.

On August 30, during court proceedings, Zhang Ruijin’s defence lawyer advocated for his client’s release on bail.

The lawyer highlighted Zhang’s active involvement in charitable endeavours and his contributions to local charities as part of the argument.

Charities’ Response

In response to the Straits Times’ report, Rainbow Centre issued a statement on Sunday (8 Oct).

The centre acknowledged that since the suspects’ names were disclosed in August 2023, they had initiated an internal investigation and sought guidance from relevant authorities regarding the received donations. They were also awaiting official guidance from the Commissioner of Charities.

As part of their comprehensive review, Rainbow Centre confirmed that the donations connected to Vang, Su Haijin, and Zhang Rujin, as mentioned in the ST, amounted to $72,450.

Rainbow Centre emphasized its unwavering commitment to fulfilling its legal obligations and adhering to all applicable laws and regulations related to preventing money laundering.

“We will be reviewing our policies and due diligence processes and if necessary, will implement measures to further ensure that at all times, it is in full compliance with all its legal and regulatory obligations. ”

“Rainbow Centre wishes to assure its beneficiaries and donors that contributions are handled responsibly and every effort is made to ensure full compliance with the law.”

Meanwhile, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) could not confirm if the mentioned Su Baolin is connected to the money laundering case.

Furthermore, they did not confirm if they were aware of donations from any individuals associated with the money laundering case.

The spokesperson went on to emphasize that NKF adheres to a stringent policy of conducting due diligence checks on all donations, with the primary aim of providing beneficiaries with reasonable assurance that the contributions are not of illegal origin.

They emphasized their commitment to transparency and accountability, stating they would return the money if necessary.

Challenges in donor verification

Karen Wee, the Executive Director of Lions Befrienders, confirmed that the organization had received a $5,000 donation in 2022 from one of the ten individuals involved. However, she declined to disclose the donor’s identity.

Ms. Wee explained, “Even though the amount of money was small compared to the $2.1 million we raised in 2022-2023, we made a police report because Lions Befrienders is about transparency and accountability.”

She added that they are prepared to return the donation if necessary.

Typically, the organization applies heightened scrutiny to larger donations exceeding $10,000. This entails verification checks to ensure that the funds do not originate from individuals blacklisted by the police or associated with questionable backgrounds or businesses.

She pointed out that Lions Befrienders has limited means to conduct background checks on potential donors.

Checks with credit bureaus are only effective for businesses or individuals operating within Singapore. Otherwise, the organization relies on public announcements or updates from the police regarding potential offenders.

Three suspects in S$2.8 billion case allegedly donated S$100,000 each to President’s Challenge in 2020

However, the discovery by The Straits Times may only scratch the surface of the suspects’ charitable contributions.

In August, it came to light that an article originally posted on Singapore’s Sian Chay Medical Institution (善济医社) website in 2021 had mentioned the names of Su Haijin, Su Baolin, and Zhang Rujin, along with their respective spouses.

Although the original article has since been removed, the original post indicated that three couples donated S$100,000 (approximately US $73,681) to the charitable organization.

The article expressed gratitude, stating, ‘Special thanks to the families of Su Haijin and Ms. Wu Qin (伍琴), the families of Su Baolin and Ma Ning (马宁), and the families of Zhang Ruijin and Lin Baoying.’

Lianhe Zaobao also reported that President’s Challenge, an annual charitable campaign led by the Singapore President, confirmed that since 2018, Sian Chay Medical Institution has made donations to the campaign.

In 2020, Sian Chay Medical Institution received three checks of S$100,000 each, bearing the names of individuals with the same names as three suspects in the billion-dollar money laundering case.

These three checks were subsequently handed over to the President’s Challenge and were distributed to beneficiary organizations in June 2021.

However, the spokesperson emphasized that the President’s Challenge has no direct relationship with the individuals involved in the case and has not received any further donations from them.

“The President’s Challenge is aware of the media reports and will continue to monitor the development of the situation,” the spokesperson clarified.

Mysterious man with ‘Fujian accent’ seeking repentance reportedly wants to donate S$10 million to build a temple in Singapore

Interestingly, Shin Min Daily News reported that a temple official disclosed a curious incident involving a mysterious benefactor who proposed a generous S$10 million donation for temple construction right after the Lunar New Year festivities commenced this year.

This affluent donor, recognized by their distinct “Fujian accent,” approached the temple official while driving a luxurious vehicle, expressing a heartfelt desire to contribute significantly to the temple’s establishment.

The donor expressed a strong desire to atone for past actions and give back to society, with a specific wish to secure land for the construction of the temple, regardless of its dedication. They even expressed interest in residing there in their later years.

The temple official, curious about the donor’s ties to the area, inquired about their local business or company. However, the donor failed to provide a satisfactory response and abruptly ended the conversation.

Charity donations scrutinized in light of Singapore’s money laundering probe

In Parliament on 3 October, PAP MP for Holland–Bukit Timah GRC raised a question concerning whether certain charities were being investigated for receiving donations.

In response, Josephine Teo clarified in Parliament that some charities had voluntarily chosen to ring-fence these donations, while others had taken the initiative to make police reports and intended to surrender the funds to the police.

“The Commissioner of Charities will issue an advisory to encourage all charities to review their donor records to ascertain whether they have received donations from the arrested individuals and entities linked to them, and file the requisite suspicion suspicious transaction reports (STR).”

Additionally, the advisory would provide guidance to charities on how to handle these funds.

Under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, individuals and organizations are legally obligated to file an STR if they have reason to believe that a donation, in this case, a cash donation, may be linked to serious crimes such as money laundering.

Failure to do so can result in severe penalties, including fines of up to S$250,000 for individuals and up to three years of imprisonment. Organizations may face fines of up to S$500,000.”

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Likely any donations/sponsorships made to pap events or its affiliated organizations will NOT be mentioned, hor. Squeaky clean image, mah.

My dog used to eat meat but he’s a vegetarian now. So how does that sit? When they were happily swallowing all the ill gotten gains, they didn’t think about the consequences did they?

, … … as the donations are from ill~gotten gains and already spent/expensed, … what now ?!!!

Even if gdp is 348billion, mostly goes into their pocket. No?!?plus these ill gotten gain … Dunno how they count whether void or count into the bucket … As if they will be transparent about it. Then wayang show aplenty on the Nation Reserve … And the ppl should ask who is the beneficiary of this Reserve?!?

For illustration, 2020 sg gdp about 348B only. So, 3.5B is 1% of it. What happens if actual total absolute laundering is 3.5B? This is a theoretical question. Does this mean GDP without laundering would be 1% less? Of course , some feel that absolute total laundering is unknown

功在社會

PPPM or PBBM ?

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