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Vang Shuiming’s second bail request denied despite 24-hour surveillance proposal

Accused in a S$2.8 billion money laundering case, Vang Shuiming’s second bail request was denied in a Singapore court on Thursday.

The decision was based on concerns of his substantial overseas assets, multiple passports, and the movement of cryptocurrency assets post-arrest, highlighting a significant flight risk.

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SINGAPORE: Vang Shuiming, one of the accused in a S$2.8 billion money laundering case, faced his second denial of bail by a Singapore court on Thursday (12 Oct).

Despite his offer to be placed under 24-hour surveillance as a condition of his release, Justice Vincent Hoong was unconvinced by the proposed measures.

This was due to the significant flight risk posed by Vang, considering his substantial overseas assets, possession of multiple passports, and evidence showing that his cryptocurrency assets had been moved following his arrest.

Appearing in the High Court for the second time, 42-year-old Vang, also known as Wang Shuiming (王水明), was the only one among the ten accused individuals who pursued this route known as criminal revision to seek bail.

During this latest application, Vang’s lawyer, Mr Wendell Wong, contended that the district judge’s decision on September 29 to deny bail to his client was incorrect.

However, Justice Hoong did not identify any significant flaws in the order that would have led to an unjust denial of bail.

“The arguments made by the applicant before the district judge and in this application are unmeritorious and do not support his position for bail to be granted,” he added.

The judge also reminded Vang that, while he retained the option to seek another bail review in the lower court or file further applications to the High Court, he must ensure that these applications are supported by substantial grounds.

“Once an application for bail has been rejected, the court would be extremely reluctant to grant bail where subsequent applications are filed to the same court, unless there has been a material change in circumstances or new facts have since come to light,” the judge told Vang.

Vang, who holds passports from China and Vanuatu, was one of ten individuals arrested by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) on August 15, all of whom originally hailed from Fujian, China.

Defence counsel advocates 24-hour surveillance 

During the proceedings, Mr Wendell Wong, representing Vang, argued for the granting of bail with appropriate conditions to ensure Vang’s trial attendance.

He proposed that Vang could be required to wear an electronic monitoring device and expressed Vang’s willingness to undergo continuous 24-hour surveillance via closed-circuit television cameras.

Furthermore, Vang’s family members were ready to surrender their passports and have their names placed on the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority’s watchlist, according to Mr Wong.

Mr Wong contended that there was no concrete evidence suggesting that Vang posed a flight risk, apart from the fact that he possessed multiple passports.

He emphasized that all of these passports had been lawfully obtained and issued by their respective governments. He also stressed that the presumption of innocence should not be overshadowed, particularly since Vang had not been convicted of any crimes.

On the other hand, Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh maintained that Vang presented a significant flight risk.

Koh argued that Vang lacked substantial roots in Singapore as he was neither a citizen nor a permanent resident.

He pointed out that considerable assets totalling over $240 million, belonging to Vang and his wife, had been seized or were subject to prohibition orders in Singapore.

Vang’s vast wealth: Assets in Singapore and overseas

These assets include S$962,000 in cash, S$128.8 million in his bank accounts, S$5.5 million in his wife’s bank accounts, 15 properties worth S$104.8 million in his wife’s name but funded by him, and three vehicles worth S$3.4 million in his wife’s name but funded by him.

In June 2022, Lianhe Zaobao reported that a Chinese national from Fujian acquired 20 units in bulk at CanningHill Piers for an estimated S$85 million.

Vang is believed to have financed the acquisition of 10 units within this prestigious condominium development.

Additionally, Vang held assets exceeding S$35.5 million overseas.

This includes an estimated 32 million yuan (US$4.4 million) invested in Chinese private companies, land plots in Cambodia valued at US$18 million, investments totalling US$500,000 in Turkey, ownership of two condominium units in Xiamen, China, with a combined value of 20 million yuan, HK$2 million held in a Hong Kong bank account, and US$110,000 worth of USDT or Tether tokens.

Prosecution asserts Vang’s access to assets abroad raises flight risk concerns

DPP Koh argued that this situation provided Vang with both the means and motivation to relocate overseas and access assets that had not been seized.

He highlighted Vang’s vague statements regarding the whereabouts of his Cambodian passport, which remained unaccounted for.

He said Vang’s claim that he and his family members were willing to surrender their passports was meaningless.

“It is not possible for the police to determine how many passports they have, whether all of their passports had been surrendered, and… to prevent them from obtaining new passports,” he said.

Regarding the watchlist, the prosecutor noted that an accused person seeking to evade jurisdiction might not necessarily attempt to do so through immigration checkpoints.

Justice Hoong, in his judgment, observed that Vang had obtained passports from Turkey, Vanuatu, and Cambodia by making donations and financial contributions to these countries.

This further heightened the risk of Vang being able to flee, either using the Cambodian passport or by procuring a new one through similar means.

Vang’s case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference in the State Courts on October 27.

Vang Shui Ming and his family relocated to Singapore in 2019

Vang currently faces five charges, the most among the ten arrested.

This includes one count of using a forged document and four counts of possessing criminal proceeds worth S$2.4 million from an unlicensed moneylending operation in China.

Notably, In an earlier court session on 29 September, the lead investigating officer (IO) disclosed that over US$2.8 million (S$3.8 million) in cryptocurrencies had been withdrawn from Vang’s account while he was detained on 15 August in connection with a S$2.8 billion money-laundering investigation.

Just two days after Vang was placed in custody, the aforementioned crypto assets were withdrawn from his Binance account.

CAD was initially unaware of these assets and only became aware of them after receiving information from “foreign authorities“.

Vang is wanted by Chinese authorities for illegal online gambling, yet he and his family have managed to evade them and relocate to Singapore since 2019.

Interestingly, Vang’s children reportedly attend international schools in Singapore. Furthermore, the court learned that Vang’s wife, son, and daughter each hold passports from Türkiye, China, and Vanuatu.

Vang also admitted that he formally renounced his Chinese citizenship on February 16 at the Chinese embassy in Singapore and was not arrested at that time, suggesting the allegation of his involvement in moneylending operations in China was unfounded.

The prosecutor argued that Vang lacks deep roots in Singapore, as he is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident, and emphasized that Vang uprooted his family in 2019 and could potentially do so again, especially given the serious charges he faces in Singapore.

Vang’s brother is among the eight people wanted by the Singapore police 

Vang is also linked to three other wanted suspects who are on the run, including his brother, Wang Shuiting (王水挺).

He is also one of the eight people wanted by the Singapore police in the S$2.4 billion money laundering case.

The police earlier said that 12 indiduals were assisting in investigations in the high-profile case, while eight others were on the run and had been placed on a wanted list.

Wang Shuiting, who is also a member of the Sentosa Golf Club, is wanted by the Chinese authorities for his involvement in the Heng Bo Bao Wang (恒博包网) gambling syndicate, which was uncovered in May 2022.

His brother, Shuiming, is also wanted in China, allegedly for the same reason.

Chinese authorities issued notice to Wang’s Brother on the same day as Singapore’s islandwide raid

Interestingly, On 15 August, the same day the Singapore authorities conducted the islandwide raid, the Boshan Sub-bureau of the Zibo Municipal Public Security Bureau issued a notice urging Wang Shuiming and 9 other individuals to return to the country and surrender themselves.

The Chinese enforcement said they successfully dismantled the Hengbo Online Gambling Group, which was engaged in the development and maintenance of gambling websites, applications, and online gambling platforms for profit.

Chinese police said a total of 131 criminal suspects were arrested, and over 10 million yuan of assets related to the case were seized, frozen, or recovered. As of now, there are still 9 criminal suspects involved in the case illegally staying abroad, including Wang Shuiming and Wang Shuiting.

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