Singapore’s $3B Money Laundering Case Wraps as Last Defendant Imprisoned

Posted on: June 10, 2024, 07:04h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2024, 07:04h.

The last of ten defendants in Singapore’s all-time biggest money laundering case was sentenced Monday to 17 months in prison.

Su Jianfeng, money laundering, Singapore
Su Jianfeng, pictured in 2019, shortly after he arrived at Singapore. He was a major cog in a money laundering machine that washed at least S$3 billion (US$2.2 billion) through Singapore banks and businesses. (Image: Fidu Properties/Facebook)

Su Jianfeng pleaded guilty last week to one count of money laundering under Singapore’s Corruption, Drug Trafficking, and Other Serious Crimes Act, and one count of forgery. He has also agreed to forfeit S$178.9 million (US$132 million) of his assets to Singapore authorities.

The first charge relates to his possession of S$551K (US$407K) — the proceeds of running an illegal gambling operation from the Philippines, according to prosecutors. The second was for fraudulently using a forged property-sale contract to explain the source of deposits into his bank account.

Case Shocked Singapore

Su was a major cog in a S$3 billion (US$2.2 billion) money laundering machine that shocked the island nation when it was uncovered in August 2023.

He may be the last defendant to be sentenced, but other members remain at large, and authorities believe the network could have included hundreds of individuals. The other nine defendants in the case received prison terms of between 12 and 16 months.

Questions remain about how members of the network were able to move money through the island nation’s banking system for so long without drawing attention. And how they were able to invest freely in numerous Singaporean companies to hide illicit funds from illegal gambling and scam operations based overseas.

The case has sparked reviews of banking regulations in the financial hub, which has long welcomed the super-wealthy to its shores.

Fujan Clan

While all defendants were originally from China’s Fujan province, some held numerous passports from countries like Cambodia, Cyprus, and Dominica – all jurisdictions where citizenship can be bought by wealthy individuals as part of an “investment scheme.”

Su was officially a joint-Vanuatu national. A passport from the South Pacific Island nation can be acquired for an outlay of $130K, according to its government’s website.

He arrived in Singapore with his family in 2019 and claimed to be a property dealer who traded real estate in Dubai. He had previously lived in Malaysia and then the Philippines, where the online gambling operations were based, but came to Singapore because he wanted his children to study there.

Forged Document

In August 2021, when the financial crime compliance unit at Su’s bank in Singapore asked him to explain two suspicious deposits totaling around S$2 million, he supplied a sales contract for a Dubai property that turned out to be forged.

Besides the charge involving S$550,903, which Su accepted as part of his plea deal, prosecutors asked for three similar charges to be taken into consideration. Two involved S$5 million (US$3.7 million) each and the third involved S$7 million (US$5 million).

This is indicative of the scale and significance of the accused’s offending and demonstrates a high degree of disregard for the law on the part of the accused,” chief prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng said.

“The swift prosecution of these 10 cases is a strong message to would-be criminals that Singapore will not tolerate attempts to flout our laws,” he added.

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