Singapore’s $2.2 billion gambling and money laundering conviction

Lea Hogg 2 weeks ago
Singapore’s $2.2 billion gambling and money laundering conviction

Singapore has witnessed the first conviction in its largest-ever money laundering case. The case, which has made headlines worldwide, involves the seizure of billions in luxury properties, cars, and gold bars.

The defendant, Su Wenqiang, a Cambodian national, (pictured above), was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment for two counts of money laundering. Su had pleaded guilty in a Singapore district court to 11 charges. These charges included taking proceeds from illegal remote gambling and lying to get work passes for himself and his wife.

Investigations revealed that Su Wenqiang was involved in an unlawful remote gambling business based in the Philippines. This business offered its remote gambling services to persons overseas. Su, who holds passports from Cambodia, Vanuatu, and China, is one of 10 foreigners who were arrested in Singapore in August last year in simultaneous raids. The court cases against the other defendants are ongoing.

Singapore’s largest money laundering investigation

More than $2.2 billion of assets were seized or frozen in the probe. Around S$6 million ($4.4 million) from Su was seized, including cash, two vehicles, jewellery, luxury items, and alcohol.

This case has prompted authorities to set up an inter-ministerial panel to review anti-money laundering measures and inspect financial institutions suspected of involvement. Government agencies are also reviewing tax incentives for family offices and looking at whether high-value assets such as luxury cars and bags should be subject to regulation.

Su Wenqiang was involved in an unlawful remote gambling business based in the Philippines, which offered its remote gambling services to persons overseas. He got involved in this operation while living in Manila in 2019, when he was primarily engaged in online gambling. Through this, he got to know a person identified in court as “A”, who was involved in providing remote gambling services to people living in China. The operation involved a website that people in China could access through their phones to place bets. 

This is illegal in China, the prosecutors noted. 

Su became involved in this operation and managed the staff who maintained one of the business’ illegal gambling websites. Through these actions, Su facilitated punters’ participation in remote gambling through a service that was unlicensed and unlawful in China.

Su was entitled to a share of the criminal proceeds generated by the illegal remote gambling business, earning a cut of the profits each month. He also came to learn that the person in charge of the operation was an unknown individual from Taiwan. In 2021, he moved to Singapore as his wife wanted their two young children to study there. While in Singapore, Su continued to work for the illegal gambling business and flew to the Philippines regularly for work. His involvement in this operation led to his conviction this week in Singapore’s largest money laundering case.

Money laundering is a widespread issue, and in this case illegal gambling played a significant role as a source of illicit funds. The importance of robust anti-money laundering measures cannot be overstated and constant vigilance and enforcement by authorities are crucial in combating these illegal activities.

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