Suspects in Singapore money laundering case allegedly linked to China gambling groups

Money laundering, Singapore

Most individuals arrested in a large-scale money laundering police operation in Singapore are linked to illegal China gaming operations, according to a report.

On August 15, a massive law enforcement operation in Singapore involving coordinated raids led to the arrest of 10 people suspected of being involved in transnational crimes, including the laundering of proceeds of illegal gambling and online scams.

According to the Singapore Police Force, extensive months-long investigations involving analysis of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) led them to identify the group as being involved in laundering the proceeds of crime from overseas organized crime activities, including scams and online gambling.

Cyber Scam Monitor, a website that documents and tracks online scam and gambling operations in Southeast Asia, the nine men and one woman arrested by Singapore authorities are all reported to be from mainland China, although they hold a range of passports, with some individuals holding two or three, with most of the detainees originally from China’s Fujian Province.

At the same time, the Straits Times reported that several of those arrested are allegedly linked to individuals who were investigated in China for illegal gambling activities, stating that two of the detained mainland men launched a gambling website in 2013 that offered games like blackjack and baccarat and provided sports and Esports betting services.

Their business grew quickly and in 2014, they moved the operations to the city of Bavet, in Cambodia, near the border with Vietnam, later launching the site Hongli300. The group expanded their team aggressively, hiring and recruiting ethnic Chinese employees to fill roles in graphic design, customer service and finance management.

This illegal gambling site was later shut down around October 2014, with the report describing it as generating RMB980 million ($134.4 million) in various transactions at the time.

Three other suspects facing a money laundering charge each, a Cypriot national; a Vanuatu national, and a Cambodian national, are also allegedly linked to another gambling group in China.

The suspects face charges of money laundering, forgery for the purpose of cheating, using a forged document, and resisting arrest. These offenses are punishable by prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of S$500,000 ($368,000).