20 February 2018
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Criminal law, procedure & sentencing feed-image   

Money courier who carried nearly S$12m into S’pore jailed for false declarations

08 Feb 2018
Faris Mokhtar

Largest amount of cash to be moved into Singapore by an individual, court told

Over eight months in 2013 and 2014, a 47-year-old Malaysian man worked as a cash courier, carting up to hundreds of thousands of dollars into Singapore from across the Causeway each time.

Abdul Jalil Sulaiman would falsely declare the amount of money he was carrying.

By the time his ruse was up, he had couriered close to S$12 million – the largest amount of cash to be moved to Singapore.

Abdul Jalil was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment on Wednesday (Feb 7) for 30 counts of failing to accurately report the movements of money. Another 70 similar charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that Abdul Jalil first couriered cash into Singapore on Sept 4, 2013, carrying S$79,000. The largest amount he brought in was S$310,165, on Jan 21, 2014.

Abdul Jalil said he worked for an Indian national and Malaysian permanent resident called Mohd Salim, who owned four or five money-changing shops in Malaysia. The authorities have not been able to verify Mohd Salim’s identity or locate him so far.

They met in 2010 and reconnected in 2013, when Mr Mohd Salim instructed Abdul Jalil to register two companies – which had no business dealings – and open four bank accounts for the firms.

Money was later deposited into those accounts, which Abdul Jalil would withdraw in order to courier the cash to Singapore. He was instructed to hand over the money to a few unnamed individuals at Serangoon Road.

Under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Act, individuals who bring in money exceeding the prescribed amount of S$20,000 have to fill up a cash movement report, stating the intended recipient of the cash and the amount being moved into Singapore.

However, during each of his 100 visits to Singapore, Abdul Jalil made false declarations, under-reporting the amount of money he had.

On the afternoon of April 16, 2014, he declared he had RM150,000 in a cash movement report, but an immigration officer at the Woodlands checkpoint checked his motorcycle and found an additional RM99,400 in his backpack.

The total amount of RM249,400 (S$96,163) was seized by the Commercial Affairs Department and Abdul Jalil was arrested.

In his mitigation, Abdul Jalil, who did not have a lawyer, said Mohd Salim had paid him about RM2,500 a month and told him he would not encounter any problems.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Anne Fernandez called for a 36-month jail term and said a deterrent sentence is warranted as Abdul Jalil’s premeditated actions were carried out over a prolonged period.

He was unable to prove the money couriered was obtained through legitimate business, and had allowed money launderers to abuse Singapore’s financial system, she said.

“While the prosecution recognises that this is also not a case where the cash moved is proven to be tainted by any underlying crime, the harm where funds appear to be obtained in suspicious circumstances must be distinguished from cases where cash was obtained in legitimate forms,” said Ms Fernandez.

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