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$3b money laundering case: Su Jianfeng given 17 months’ jail, last of 10 to be dealt with

$3b money laundering case: Su Jianfeng given 17 months’ jail, last of 10 to be dealt with

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 11 Jun 2024
Author: Andrew Wong

He had demonstrated high degree of disregard for law in Singapore, says judge.

Dubai property broker Su Jianfeng was sentenced to 17 months’ jail on June 10, making him the last of the 10 foreigners arrested in an anti-money laundering blitz in August 2023 to be sent to jail.

The 36-year-old Vanuatu national, who is originally from China, pleaded guilty on June 6 to money laundering and forgery.

Another 12 charges were taken into consideration. They range from forgery and money laundering to manpower-related offences for hiring a personal chef without a valid work pass.

District Judge James Elisha Lee on June 10 said Su demonstrated a high degree of disregard for the law in Singapore, with the charges showing that he persistently committed the acts over a significant period of time.

As part of his sentence, Su agreed to forfeit $178.9 million of his assets to the state. His forfeited assets represent 95.5 per cent of the $187 million fortune seized from him and his wife Chen Qiuyan.

At the conclusion of Su’s sentencing, Mr Tan Kiat Pheng, chief prosecutor of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, said in a statement that the amounts involved make this one of the largest money laundering cases that have been prosecuted in the nation.

Said Mr Tan: “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. We will take firm and swift action against those who exploit our system to launder illicit gains or commit white-collar crimes.”

Court documents showed that just after the couple relocated to Singapore in August 2020, they amassed a portfolio of assets that included 12 properties worth $63.9 million and seven vehicles worth $5.2 million.

To explain his wealth, Su deceived two banks in Singapore by submitting a number of property sales contracts despite knowing that they were false.

Two of the contracts, which he submitted to Maybank Singapore, were for the sale of DC The Grand property number 5101 and property number 3009 to someone named Li Bao.

A third contract, which was also given to Maybank, was for the sale of Residences_E2 property number 2302 to Lin Zhenghu.

Su claimed that deposits of $1,029,970 and $969,970 made by a firm named Tuo Xin You were proceeds from the sale of the property.

A fourth contract was for Address Boulevard property number 3101 – purportedly sold to Wong Hiuluen – which Su submitted to OCBC Bank.

A fifth contract, which was also handed to OCBC, was for the sale of Emaar Square Bldg 2 property number 408 to Zhou Weihong.

Su claimed that a deposit of $2,999,980 made by Wecord Rich Trading Company was from the sale of the property.

He had also submitted two loan agreements to OCBC that he knew were forged.

In court, Su claimed to have made money as a real estate agent in Dubai.

However, a data leak reported by The Straits Times and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an investigative journalism group, showed he was a property broker who worked with a Singapore-based businessman to sell properties in Dubai to foreigners in Singapore.

The investors include individuals wanted in China, three other individuals convicted in the $3 billion money laundering probe, associates of the convicts, and a China-born businessman who left Singapore abruptly amid the probe.

In total, they bought at least 126 properties worth more than 537 million dirham (S$198 million).

The bulk of the properties were luxury units marketed by Fidu Properties, including The Grand at Dubai Creek and Grande Downtown Dubai.

Su himself had bought 30 properties in Dubai, the leak showed, although ST could independently verify only 12 properties worth more than $21 million in total.

They include apartments at the Burj Khalifa, once the world’s tallest building, and a villa in District One Villas Phase Two, just minutes away from Crystal Lagoon.

After Su’s arrest by Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), police found he had 12 properties here, seven luxury vehicles, tens of millions of dollars in cash and in bank accounts, and $26 million worth of cryptocurrency.

Su told police investigators that he also owned 11 “condominium rooms”, two offices and a villa worth a total of 30 million dirham in Dubai.

In a statement released on June 10, the police said the total value of assets linked to the 10 convicted foreigners that have been seized and issued with prohibition disposal orders amounts to more than $1 billion.

Of that amount, more than $940 million in assets has been forfeited from the 10 convicted foreigners in the case.

The authorities on June 5 said the bulk of the $3 billion in cash and assets involved in the money laundering case belong to 17 other individuals who remain on the run.

In the June 10 statement, the police said they will maintain custody of the assets associated with the 17 until they have been dealt with by the court.

The prosecution had sought a jail term of between 17 and 18 months for Su, who it said laundered some $17.5 million in Singapore.

It added that Su opted to plead guilty only because it would mean less time behind bars, after he learnt about the sentences meted out to the other nine implicated in the case.

In a written judgment published on June 10, the judge said Su’s offences were premeditated and have undermined the integrity of Singapore’s financial system.

“The role and ability of banks and financial institutions to detect and report suspicious transactions and deposits is an important component in the anti-money laundering framework in Singapore.

“The accused’s act strikes directly at this critical function. The effect is not confined to frustration of the banks’ ability to ascertain the true sources of funds.

“It also impacts adversely on the overall ability of Singapore, as a reputable financial hub, to effectively carry out its anti-money laundering responsibilities,” said the judge.

Of the others convicted, Su Wenqiang, Su Haijin, Su Baolin, Wang Baosen, Vang Shuiming, Zhang Ruijin, Chen Qingyuan and Lin Baoying were jailed for between 13 and 15 months each.

Wang Dehai was sentenced to 16 months in jail.

Four of them – Su Wenqiang, Wang Baosen, Su Baolin and Su Haijin – were deported to Cambodia between May 6 and 28. Vang was deported to Japan on June 1.

CAD director David Chew said in a statement on June 10: “Our swift and firm law enforcement efforts and the successful prosecutions of these 10 offenders are testament to our commitment to tackle transnational crime and disrupt the activities of organised crime syndicates.

“In Singapore, these criminals will not find safe harbour for themselves or their wealth.”

Source: Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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