June 2, 2023
SINGAPORE – Twelve people, including six Singaporeans, who allegedly abetted foreign scammers in laundering around US$36 million (S$48.7 million) in criminal proceeds, were charged in court on Thursday.
The 12 people, aged between 27 and 72 years old, were either directors of Singapore-registered companies who are said to have failed to use reasonable diligence in discharging their duties, or allegedly abetted these directors in carrying out these alleged crimes.
The Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Commercial Affairs Department found that foreign agents used foreign corporate service providers – which were mostly based in China – to engage the providers here to incorporate local companies and open Singapore bank accounts between July 2020 and February 2021, said the police and Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) in a joint statement on Thursday.
The local nominee directors of 35 Singapore-registered companies allegedly allowed company bank accounts to be operated by these foreign agents.
These accounts received and laundered criminal proceeds totalling $48.7 million from local and overseas victims of business e-mail compromise, investment and love scams.
One of the five women dealt with was also charged with authorising her staff to use her Singpass/Corppass account to lodge documents, including those relating to the Register of Registrable Controllers, with the Registrar of Companies despite knowing that the papers contained false information.
A male director was charged with lodging documents with the Registrar of Companies knowing that the documents held false information.
Acra had also earlier cancelled two of the charged individuals’ registrations as Registered Qualified Individuals, who provide corporate secretarial services for business entities and transact with Acra on behalf of clients.
The statement said company directors are required to discharge their duties with reasonable diligence, as inadequate supervision over a company’s affairs exposes the company to risks of criminal activities.
“The SPF and Acra urge the public to understand the legal duties and obligations before becoming directors for companies, as directors would be liable for any breaches of their duties,” the statement said, adding that Acra also takes a serious view of false filings as such information is used by various stakeholders to make decisions.
Those found guilty of failing to use reasonable diligence in the discharge of duties as a director, or abetting the offence, can be jailed for up to 12 months, or fined up to $5,000.
Those convicted of lodging documents containing information that is false in a material respect can be jailed for up to two years, or fined up to $50,000, or both.