August 31, 2023
SINGAPORE – The suspects in the billion-dollar money laundering case were on Wednesday denied bail amid concerns flagged by prosecutors over possible collusion and third-party interference with investigations.
The prosecution team also drew alleged links to foreign syndicates and assets, overseas gambling activities and fugitives.
The case involves more than $1 billion in assets including properties, cars, and luxury watches and handbags.
In court proceedings, which saw the accused appear via video link, the court heard requests from defence lawyers for their clients to have access to family members, with some arguing that the accused were not flight risks.
District Judge Kow Keng Siong ordered for them to remain in custody, after prosecutors raised concerns over alleged links between the suspects.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting noted that in the case of Su Haijin, who was charged with one count of resisting arrest, there was concern over purported links to other individuals who may attempt to impede investigations.
The prosecutor said that assets amounting to $160 million belonging to the Cypriot national and his wife have been seized.
“There are ongoing attempts by third parties to dissipate assets on Su’s behalf. Beyond Su’s connections with the other arrested individuals in this case, these parties may well be prepared, directly or indirectly, to impede in investigations,” added DPP Ng.
The first to appear before the court was Cambodian national Chen Qingyuan, one of the 10 foreigners linked to the alleged billion-dollar money laundering ring. He was handed three more charges on Wednesday.
The charges concern more than $6 million in his bank account, a car valued at more than $1 million, and cryptocurrency, said DPP Ng.
Chen possessed a white Range Rover, which purportedly represents benefits from remote gambling offences.
The DPP sought for Chen, 33, to be remanded for another eight days, adding that the evidence collected shows connections among the 10 people. The DPP added that there is a risk of contamination of evidence and collusion among those involved.
Chen’s lawyer Mark Tan asked for his client to be released on bail.
“He is not a flight risk. His passport has been seized, his family is here and he misses them,” said the lawyer. “He has a wife and three children. The two older ones have been studying here since 2017 and they are integrated here.”
Mr Tan added that there is a “low chance of him reoffending” and that Chen was regularly involved in volunteer work and would like to return to that.
The judge ordered that Chen continue to be remanded until Sept 6, when his case will be heard in court again.
Chen, who was first charged on Aug 16 with one count of benefiting from the ill-gotten gains of criminal activities, is now facing four charges under the same Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
He was the first of the 10 accused to appear in court via video link after their arrests on Aug 15, following an islandwide blitz which involved 400 police officers. Chen was arrested at his condominium in Leonie Hill Road in the River Valley area.
The Cambodian national was handed a second money laundering charge on Wednesday.
In 2022, the 31-year-old paid $500,000, which was allegedly from the benefits of criminal conduct, for a Mercedes-Benz car.
Court documents stated that it involved an unlawful remote gambling service based in the Philippines for people in China.
Seeking bail for his client, lawyer Nandwani Manoj Prakash said his client, whose wife is in Singapore, has two young children who are enrolled in an international school.
When the judge ordered that he remain in remand, Su requested to speak to the court.
He said in Mandarin: “I am pleading to the court to grant me bail. As long as I can be with my family, I am agreeable to any form of monitoring… I have insomnia, I am unable to sleep well, and I am on the verge of a mental breakdown.”
The judge said Su will be able to speak to his lawyer, but added that he is to remain in remand.
The Cambodian national, who was handed a second forgery charge, appeared in court via video link from Changi Medical Centre. The 41-year-old has a congenital heart condition.
DPP Ng said the seized properties belonging to him and his wife are valued at over $130 million.
The prosecutor made an application for him to remain in remand for eight more days, noting that the risk of collusion and contamination of evidence remains high.
Addressing the court, Su’s lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said DPP Ng should not “throw about the term ‘collusion’ so casually”. He said his client and Su Haijin are not brothers.
“Some of the co-accused persons are barely acquaintances. Hence, we cannot bandy about terms like ‘collusion’,” said Mr Sunil.
In response, DPP Ng said: “Investigations so far have strengthened the links between them. They are certainly not mere acquaintances.”
The judge granted the prosecution’s application for Su Baolin to be further remanded.
Mr Sunil told the court that his client has not been allowed to see his wife yet as she is a person of interest in the case.
The 31-year-old Chinese national was handed a second money laundering charge on Wednesday.
According to court documents, he took possession of a black Toyota Alphard Hybrid Elegance in 2022, which allegedly represents his benefits from criminal conduct.
When the charge was translated to him in Mandarin, Wang said he had borrowed money from relatives to purchase the car.
DPP Gan Ee Kiat said investigations indicate that the source of the funds is tainted, adding that Wang’s wife has a property in Singapore worth around $14 million, as well as bank accounts here and overseas.
“The accused is also connected to an individual on the run, and they are suspected to be involved in a criminal syndicate based in a foreign jurisdiction,” added the DPP.
Wang’s lawyer Adrian Wee noted that the prosecution had argued that there is a prospect of collusion, but did not state why it came to this conclusion and who the accused may be colluding with.
In response, DPP Gan said: “There have been new leads since the case was last heard in court. We have stated what we know in general terms without identifying anyone.
“The fact that we did not identify them does not mean we have no evidence, and it does not mean there is no prospect of collusion.”
He added: “I can state generally that the leads identified have partially come from the accused people themselves.”
Wang has been further remanded and is expected to return to court in September.
The only woman arrested in the anti-money laundering raids, Lin was charged with forgery on Aug 16.
On Wednesday, the 43-year-old Chinese national was handed a second forgery charge, and a charge of perverting the course of justice.
DPP Ng said the authorities seized assets belonging to Lin worth around $200 million – one of the highest amounts among the 10 accused.
Defence lawyer Loo Choon Chiaw said his client, who holds an employment pass, has been in Singapore since 2019, adding: “She has clearly shown the intention that she’s making Singapore her permanent home.”
He said his client started a food and beverage chain in 2023 called Ban Tian Yao and has two children, including a daughter who is studying in a university overseas.
Mr Loo added that Lin’s son and sister were in court to support her.
She will also remain in remand.
The 40-year-old appeared in court via video link from Changi General Hospital (CGH). He had suffered injuries while allegedly trying to escape on Aug 15.
Su, who has been charged with one count of resisting arrest, was not handed new charges on Wednesday. DPP Ng said that the accused is recovering after surgery on Monday. Su fractured his hands and legs after jumping from the second-floor balcony of his home. He was allegedly found by the police hiding in a drain.
Addressing the court on his client’s behalf, defence lawyer Julian Tay said: “My client did not resist arrest. He fell from his balcony, suffered fractures and was found in the drain. He was, at best, evading arrest.”
Mr Tay added: “I have been instructed that my client has no real connection with the rest, and that his business is his own.”
The judge ordered Su to be remanded in Changi Medical Centre upon his discharge from CGH.
Wang, a 34-year-old Cypriot national, was handed a second charge under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act on Wednesday, and will remain in remand.
Court documents relating to the new charge stated that Wang had purchased a condominium unit in Paterson Hill for $23 million, by using money that was in part purportedly the benefits from criminal conduct.
DPP Gan said assets belonging to Wang, which have a combined value of around $43 million, have been seized.
This includes $18 million in his bank account, which the authorities suspect to be tainted.
“He also has properties overseas worth around $4 million, which he derives significant rental income from,” said the DPP.
The prosecutor said Wang should remain in remand, adding: “Should he not be remanded, there is a real risk that evidence, which shows the true scope of his offending, is destroyed through collusion or contamination.”
Defence lawyer Megan Chia sought bail for her client, noting that his passport has been confiscated and that all the assets belonging to him and his wife have been frozen.
DPP Gan disagreed and noted that only their assets in Singapore, and not those overseas, have been frozen.
When Ms Chia suggested a no contact order for her client, to prevent him from reaching out to those involved in the case, the DPP said: “At the end of the day, these are orders. They can be breached and the risk to investigations is a very real one.”
Su, 35, was handed three more money laundering charges, bringing his total to four.
DPP Foo Shi Hao said $17 million in cash belonging to Su, which was found in three safe deposit boxes, allegedly represent benefits from criminal conduct.
He added that the authorities would require time for further investigations, and made the application for Su, a Vanuatu national, to be further remanded as he has been linked to one of eight fugitives from Singapore. The police previously said in connection with the case that eight people are on the run and have been placed on a wanted list.
The judge granted the prosecution’s application, and Su will be remanded for eight more days.
Zhang, 44, was handed two fresh charges of forgery, bringing the total to three.
The Chinese national, who was in earlier proceedings described as Lin Baoying’s boyfriend, allegedly forged documents in 2020 with the intent to cheat CIMB Bank.
DPP Foo said the value of the assets belonging to the couple amounts to more than $280 million.
Defence lawyer Loo Choon Chiaw, who is also representing Lin, asked for his client to be released on bail.
He said Zhang has been in Singapore since 2011 and set up a family office in 2020.
“He has been active in doing charity work, and has been making donations to local charities… The couple had a permanent plan to have Singapore as their home,” said Mr Loo, who added that Zhang’s elder brother was in court to show his support.
Zhang will be further remanded.
The last to appear was the 42-year-old Turkish national, who is also known as Wang Shuiming.
He was slapped with four money laundering charges, which involve him allegedly possessing criminal benefits from an unlicensed moneylending business in China.
On Aug 16, he was charged with one count of using a forged document.
DPP Foo said assets worth around $200 million were seized from Vang, adding that police require more time because of the sheer number of items.
The DPP said Vang is linked to an individual connected to the case, who is on the run, and the fugitive’s spouse.
The couple, whose identities were not mentioned in court, have assets worth over $300 million, added the prosecutor.
Defence lawyer Wendell Wong said his client, who is asking to be released on bail, has provided the police with 13 statements and has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Wong added that the authorities would still be able to continue with investigations even if Vang is no longer in remand.
Addressing this point, DPP Foo said: “There is a risk of collusion in this case, in relation to the subject I have mentioned who is linked to Vang.
“There is an incentive for Vang, the subject, and the subject’s spouse to collude in relation to their assets, which are worth a total of half a billion.”
While the judge denied bail for Vang, he gave permission for him to meet his lawyer and his family, subject to the Commercial Affairs Department’s operational considerations.
Several of the accused were arrested at their homes in good class bungalows and high-end condos across Singapore. The operation saw about $1 billion in assets seized, frozen or issued with prohibition of disposal orders. The order prevents the sale of assets.
The assets, which were owned by the individuals under investigation or by companies and people linked to them, include 105 properties worth $831 million.
The properties comprise seven detached bungalows in Sentosa Cove, 79 condominium units and 19 commercial or industrial spaces.