The fast life and lifestyle of the rich and exaggeratingly wealthy had all looked swell on the surface, but little did jealous outsiders know it was just all a big front for an elaborate money laundering scheme.
A real-life crime crackdown that could one day be turned into a movie in cinemas. This is one of Singapore’s largest anti-money laundering operations, with S$1 billion siphoned and splashed on purchasing the country’s prestigious Sentosa Cove bungalows, exorbitant supercars, and even Bearbricks.
So what are the items that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has seized in this major operation that involved more than 400 officers?
All images in the article are credited to the SPF.
Who Are The Suspects
At least 10 suspects, aged between 31 and 44, have been identified with two arrested. The Manpower Ministry had said that the 10 foreigners were holding Employment and Dependant passes. Several of them are linked to individuals who were investigated in China for illegal gambling activities.
The suspects hold foreign passports from countries such as China, Turkey and Cambodia, but are said to have originated from Fujian, China. The Singapore Police said that all the persons involved are neither Singapore Citizens nor Permanent Residents.
One suspect is a Turkish national Vang Shuiming, 42, said to have ties to a syndicate that was busted in May 2022. Another suspect is Cambodian national Chen Qingyuan, 33. Chen was arrested in a condominium along Leonie Hill Road in Singapore’s River Valey area. Chen is also on a suspect list of the Public Security Bureau in Anxi County, China.
The suspects are mostly tied to operating illegal gambling sites. Online gambling is illegal in China and the Chinese police have been on high alert to smash online gambling platforms and cross-border gambling that involve illegal transactions, which proliferated amid the pandemic.
105 Properties – 7 Bungalows, 79 Condominium Units, 19 Commercial Spaces
A total of 105 properties valued at S$831 million have been linked to the money laundering probe.
The properties include Sentosa Cove bungalows, condominium apartments, and commercial spaces. Some of the suspects also lived in Good Class Bungalows in the Holland and Nassim Road area.
Sentosa Cove landed homes are priced from S$8 million to S$88 million, depending on the land size and type of property.
50 Supercars – Including Bentleys, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes
50 vehicles were slapped with the prohibition of disposal orders. The vehicles include Bentleys and Rolls-Royce.
A Bentley continental car costs almost S$1 million in Singapore, in general, according to price checks at car marketplaces. A Rolls-Royce costs an eye watering S$2 million each, on average, without Certificate of Entitlement (COE).
Cash And Bank Accounts Totalling More Than S$130 Million
Over S$23 million in cash was seized by the police, and found in stacks and bundles as if they were just Monopoly money. There were huge stacks of S$100 bills tied together with just rubber bands.
More than 35 related bank accounts with a total estimated balance of more than S$110 million were also seized for investigations.
Over 250 Luxury Bags – Bags Including Hermes, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton Brands
Over 250 luxury bags were seized by the police during the series of arrests for forgery and money laundering. The top-tier luxury bag brands include Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel and Prada.
Retail prices for a Hermes Birkin 30 are around S$30,000 depending on the design while a Chanel classic bag is around S$10,000. A rare Hermes Birkin bag (Hermes Himalayan Birkin) that costs S$250,000 was observed to be in the photos of seized items.
Over 270 Watches (Including Patek Philippe, And Richard Mille), Jewellery, Gold Bars, And Virtual Assets
More than 270 pieces of jewellery were seized, including branded watches.
A Patek Philippe that costs over S$7 million in the resale market was also observed to be in the photos from the SPF, as well as a Richard Mille RM 07-02 with a sapphire case that is expected to cost S$2 million in the resale market. Some of the extravagant watches are priced at over S$250,000 each.
There were also more than 120 electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones and two gold bars.
11 documents with information on virtual assets were also confiscated.
Wine, Whisky And Liquor – Macallan, Aged 25 Years And Others
According to photos from the SPF, at least 50 bottles of Macallan, Aged 25 years can be seen to have been seized. A larger alcohol storage reveals more whisky and wine on display.
A check on liquor sites online reveals that a bottle of Macallan 25 Highland single malt scotch whisky costs S$3,150 per bottle.
At least 60 Bearbricks were seized by the SPF. Some of the Bearbricks are limited edition collectibles. For example, the Bearbrick Disney Pixar Monsters, Inc. Mike 1000% costs US$350 on trading platforms like StockX.
Meanwhile, a Bearbrick Disney Pixar Monsters, Inc. Sulley 1000%, is selling for US$430 per piece on collectible trading sites. It is also a Bearbrick seen to be among the seized items.
Singapore Has ‘Zero Tolerance’ For Being Used As A Safe Haven For Criminals Or Their Families
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it takes this case seriously and has contacted the financial institutions (FI) where the potentially tainted funds have been identified.
The central bank added that supervisory engagements with these FIs are ongoing and it will take firm action against FIs that are found to have breached MAS’ stringent requirements on anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism, or to have inadequate controls against money laundering/terrorism financing risks.
Singapore has “zero tolerance” for being used as a safe haven for criminals or their families and for banking facilities to be abused, said the Director of Commercial Affairs at the SPF.
The police works with law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence units to identify, deter and thwart attempts by criminal elements to find refuge within Singapore’s borders.
Featured Image Credit: SPF
Listen to our podcast, where we have in-depth discussions on finance topics that matter to you.