In Singapore’s S$2.8 billion money laundering case, Su Jianfeng (苏剑锋), one of the accused, vehemently asserted his role as the CEO of An Xing Technology, a Singapore-based company, in an attempt to refute the prosecution’s claim of his high-flight risk.
Contradicting his claim, an affidavit by the investigating officer (IO) disclosed to the court last Wednesday (18 Oct) indicated that Su’s company was, in fact, a shell entity.
According to IO Lye Jia He of the Singapore Police Force’s Commercial Affairs Department, despite Su holding the position of CEO, his knowledge about the company’s operations was severely limited, he could not state the number of employees in the company, could not identify its employees, customers and suppliers.
“Su could not even state where the company was located, ” IO Lye added that Su also could not provide any documents showing his employment or work done.
Su Jianfeng, a 35-year-old citizen of Vanuatu but originally from Fujian, China, was apprehended on Aug 15 during a comprehensive island-wide raid conducted by Singapore authorities, leading to the arrest of ten individuals.
ACRA engages corporate service providers in ongoing money laundering investigation
According to a report by Singapore’s state media, The Straits Times, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is currently reaching out to various corporate service providers (CSPs) as part of an ongoing investigation linked to the money laundering case.
During ACRA’s investigation, several Singaporeans, previously listed as directors, secretaries, or shareholders in companies established by some of the accused individuals, have reportedly begun removing their names from these companies.
These Singaporeans were also involved in firms incorporated by associates of the arrested individuals, including the spouses of some of the accused parties.
Foreign individuals intending to set up a company in Singapore are mandated to enlist a registered filing agent, such as CSPs, and appoint at least one director residing in Singapore. This director can be a citizen, permanent resident, entrepreneur pass holder, or employment pass holder.
Shanghai-born Singaporean listed as director, secretary and shareholder in 185 companies
An earlier report indicated that a Shanghai-born Singaporean, J.J a Bedok resident was listed as director, secretary and shareholder in 185 companies, including nine linked to three of the accused.
J.J, who operates 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.
However, J.J is not the sole person doing so.
Serangoon resident earns S$50 per firm set up; involved in over 200 companies
As per ST a Serangoon resident Amy Chin has reportedly assisted in registering firms for at least three associates of the arrestees. Business records revealed her involvement as a shareholder or director in over 200 companies.
These associates include Wu Qin, whose husband, Su Haijin, faces charges of money laundering and resisting arrest in Singapore, allegedly possessing funds believed to be proceeds from unlawful remote gambling activities.
Ms Chin was previously listed as a director in Culbert Management, which was set up by Ms Wu.
Mr Jackson Lim, a Corporate service provider Grof, and another Singaporean – identified as J.J. in a previous report – were also listed as company secretaries.
Ms Chin, a Singaporean herself, is associated with companies set up by Ms Su Caihuang, the wife of accused Wang Dehai, and Wang Qiujiao, whose registered address is a condo unit at New Futura, the same unit acquired by Chen Qingyuan in 2018.
Chen was among the ten individuals arrested in the CAD operation, and Wang Qiujiao was named in MinLaw’s list.
Ms Chin stated she had never met any of the individuals behind the companies and that most discussions were conducted over WhatsApp. She admitted to not conducting due diligence and that she was involved only nominally, having no part in the operational aspects.
She stated that she has no memory of how she became connected with the companies and admitted to not conducting any checks on them. “I earned around S$50 for each firm I helped set up. To me, it was good money,” she said.
Although she claimed to have terminated her roles in the companies in late 2022, business records reveal that she remains a director in three companies in Singapore while currently working in an administrative role at a catering company.
Tan See Leng: Suspects granted EP as they met Work Pass criteria
It is also worth noting that the Ministry of Manpower has revealed that all the ten suspects in the high-profile case held Employment (EP) and Dependant Passes (DP).
For instance, Wang Baosen, a 31-year-old Chinese national and one of the ten arrested had orchestrated the establishment of his wife’s company to secure her an EP in the country.
In response to questions filed by Members of Parliament, the Second Minister for Home Affairs, Mrs Josephine Teo on 3 October explained in her Ministerial Statement that work pass applicants are screened against a database of blacklisted individuals.
At the time, none of the ten suspects appeared on Interpol’s red notice list when they applied for these passes.
Dr Tan See Leng, Singapore’s Minister of Manpower, revealed that these Employment Pass applications were approved because they met the then prevailing work pass requirements on salary and qualifications.
He noted, “When asked for proof of business operations and the ability to pay salaries, the companies which submitted the applications were able to provide supporting documents.”
Easy access for accused in S$2.8 billion case to register a shell company in Singapore
The startling revelation has led the public to contemplate pertinent questions, including how easily these accused individuals in the high-profile case were able to register a shell company in Singapore to seek a “safer haven” here.
Notably, some of the accused are wanted by China for alleged illicit activities, such as online gambling and scamming.
Open-source data from the Department of Statistics’ website in 2022 shows that the number of business formations in Singapore remained relatively stable from 2015 to 2022, fluctuating between 61,000 and 65,000 annually. The count for 2022 was 64,305.
In light of the findings in the money laundering case, one might wonder how many entities, both existing and previous, have been operating as shell companies, similar to An Xing Technology, owned by Su Jianfeng.
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