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Bloomberg: Singapore’s reputation as a haven for the super wealthy is tested

Bloomberg opinion columnist Shuli Ren spotlights Singapore’s financial hub status under threat from high profile cases of money-laundering. Ren warned that ongoing challenges with influx of dubious wealth may jeopardise its future as a leading financial centre.

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On Monday (17 June), Bloomberg published an opinion piece by columnist Shuli Ren, highlighting that Singapore’s status as a financial hub faces challenges due to a significant money-laundering scandal involving Fujian-origin individuals.

Ren, a former investment banker, noted in her piece that this scandal, which involved 10 arrests in a landmark S$3 billion money laundering case, has led Singaporean authorities to intensify scrutiny on the sources of wealth entering the country, especially through family offices and private banking channels.

She pointed out the term “Singapore-washing” to describe the phenomenon where questionable funds are channelled through Singapore.

She highlighted a substantial increase in wealth flowing from China to Singapore, driven by geopolitical tensions and President Xi Jinping’s ‘common prosperity’ initiative. In 2022 alone, Singapore attracted S$435 billion in new funds, equivalent to 70% of its GDP.

She emphasized that Singapore faces a dilemma: maintaining its global financial hub status while ensuring stringent regulatory oversight.

In response to the S$3 billion case, Singaporean authorities are intensifying scrutiny on wealth management activities, particularly targeting family offices and private banking operations.

She contrasted the latest scandal with previous issues like the 1MDB case involving Goldman Sachs Group Inc., noting that now the entire Singaporean financial sector and its money-laundering regulations are under scrutiny.

“To be sure, as a small, open economy, Singapore is structurally exposed to money laundering, especially if it wants to develop wealth management.”

Despite potential impacts on banking sector growth and competitiveness, Ms Ren acknowledged that Singapore values its reputation as a transparent and compliant jurisdiction, in contrast to Dubai’s more permissive regulatory approach.

Earlier, in a LinkedIn post, Singaporean critic Andy Wong Ming Jun characterized Ms Ren’s article as an embarrassment for the Singaporean government and a reflection of media censorship in the city-state.

Mr Wong believed that back in February, his article “Singapore Begins To Pay The Price for ‘China Cuckooing’” published by Asia Sentinel was the catalyst needed to elevate mainstream scrutiny on both the term “Singapore-Washing” and the phenomenon itself.

He highlighted that it took four months for Singaporean state media to finally cover the issue by republishing Bloomberg’s piece, underscoring a significant delay in local media coverage of the issues he addresses, suggesting a lack of independence in reporting on sensitive matters.

10 Fujian-origin foreigners convicted in S$3 billion dollar case, 17 suspects on the run

In August 2023, Singapore authorities arrested nine men and one woman in an island-wide operation.

All ten individuals, hailing from Fujian, China and holding various passports, were implicated in the S$3 billion case initiated by tip-offs in 2021 about foreigners using forged documents in Singapore.

Following their arrests, authorities seized billions of dollars in assets linked to the offenders and other fugitives. These assets included cash, luxury properties, branded goods, cryptocurrency, and alcohol.

The offenders all pleaded guilty to various crimes, including money laundering, using forged bank documents, and other related offences such as lying to the Manpower Ministry to obtain work passes to enter Singapore.

They were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 13 to 17 months.

The 10th criminal, 36-year-old Vanuatu national Su Jianfeng, was sentenced to the longest jail term on 10 June.

Responding to media inquiries, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) confirmed on 16 June that three other convicted individuals—Zhang Ruijin, Chen Qingyuan, and Lin Baoying—have been deported to Cambodia and barred from re-entering Singapore.

Despite all ten arrested individuals having been sentenced to jail, with eight deported so far, an earlier police statement confirmed that 17 individuals linked to the S$3 billion case are still under investigation and have fled Singapore.

The S$3 billion in cash and assets seized or issued with the prohibition of disposal orders in the case belonged to 27 individuals, not just the 10 convicted.

Police earlier told Singapore’s state media, The Straits Times, that they are working with foreign law enforcement agencies to tackle the transnational crimes.

The SPF has been actively sharing information through global policing networks, including seeking assistance on the whereabouts of the wanted persons, two of whom currently have Interpol red notices issued against them.

Several individuals, including Su Yongcan and Wang Huoqiang, are under Interpol red notices due to their involvement in the S$3 billion case linked to a gambling syndicate.

Su Yongcan, associated with a Dubai property scandal, had assets worth over S$161 million seized, while Wang Huoqiang’s assets amounting to S$5.2 million were frozen.

Additionally, Su Shuiming and Su Shuijun, businessmen linked to cross-border gambling, fled Singapore amid investigations.

Another figure, Su Binghai, and associates abruptly left Singapore during the probe, with ties to the gambling syndicate and significant investments in Greater China.

Wang Bingang, the purported mastermind of an illegal online gambling operation operating from the Philippines and Cambodia, continues to evade authorities. He previously lived on the same street in Singapore’s Tanglin area as former Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

According to Chinese media reports, Wang Bingang was sentenced by a Chinese court to three years in prison and fined 3 million yuan. His sentence was concluded on February 15, 2018.

 

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Tested?!? A Fact and a Factor and excuse for raising price since they so rich can afford. Why sell to local when they cannot afford the high price and always complain … No?!?

Biz among the Rich : Realm 1
Biz among their Kakis : Realm 2
Hey so where the local gonna get resources for their survival …

Govt and Empire overlords recommendation: steal, kill or rob and enslave (black), accept depress wages(white).

No?!?

Last edited 22 days ago by Chresa Teo

The island state has long established itself as a “tax haven” for the super and ultra~rich, … along with those with highly questionable backgrounds !!! FATF (FinancialActionTaskForce) was established in 1989 as the global money laundering and terrorist financial watchdog. It sets International standards that sim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to societies. SillyPore has been a member since 1992, and given events surrounding 1Mdb and more recently, the FuJian gang (that’s been reported), … it can be deduced that the island state has failed miserably in executing the most basic standards of due diligence… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by C’est la vie

A haven for the crooked super wealthy….ppl who got super rich thro criminal routes..
Many are already hiding out on our island. Our sgov had been hoodwinked or willingly allow criminals safe sanctuary in xchange for their pots of gold???

A. $435b of new funds and only $3b are caught, the rest are clean money??? Who are you kidding? From the way how easily the $3b are laundered, at least 30% of those new funds which is $130b are dirty money. These idiots caught were practically asked for it, living high profile life style and flocking their wealth as if they are afraid no one knows. It is almost like they were meant to be the sacrificial lamb to maintain a healthy relationship between the money laundry ring and the country they operate in. B. Talking about money laundering jeopardising… Read more »

Finally someone said it as it should. So is the PAP going to POFMA them? Or is that reserved for locals only?

This revenue generator will become the regime’s modus operandi to combat money laundering.With a fairly relaxed governance guarding our porous “border” and just a “slap” in the hand for those got caught in the act, launderers with billions of dirty money will be delighted if they can get away with cleansing a portion of the immense dark funds through sunny Singapore.Nonetheless , don’t rule out the possibility that US’s Uncle Sam is looking closely at what happened here.Uncle Sam will not hesitate to take appropriate actions to single out those Singapore institutions who are found guilty of the act and… Read more »

Actually, look closer, think deeper – was there any reputation? Or just hype?

The real deal there are, in London, Tokyo, Mid East, Monte Carlo maybe

Unfortunately the PAP are unable to identify the traditional wealthy from the criminals who become wealthy. It could be because the PAP themselves became wealthy by passing legislation to pay themselves $3m before reducing it to about a million. By buying First Class bungalows and after decades inviting wealthy undesirables into the island, the prices of their First Class bungalows have topped more than $50m. Can they identify themselves with the traditional wealthy like Kwek Leng Beng, Ho Kwok Ping, the Pao group in HK or Li Ka Ching? The traditional wealthy will make investments only after calculating all risks… Read more »

Living in this Complex City very safe .

As long , US / China and others dont dig out the dirt .

You think this Fujian gang of $3b is a lot laundered money? There could be many many more if we really dig into it.
Not only from China, but other Asia-Pac countries too. Indonesia, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, etc

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