Singapore Minister of Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam, explained how the investigations into the now $1.8 billion money-laundering case came to be, in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao.
According to a transcript of the interview by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Shanmugam said that the case is one of Singapore’s largest anti-money laundering operations, with more than 400 officers conducting the raids in 1 day that saw 10 people arrested.
He said that prior to the raids, there had been many months of investigations being conducted.
Snippets of Shanmugam’s explanation
The amount seized is now closer to $1.8 billion, and it could be even more. This is one of Singapore’s largest anti-money laundering operations. More than 400 officers conducted the raids on a single day and 10 persons were arrested.
The investigations leading to this, have been going on for many months. There is a lot of interest. You can understand, the amount of money, other assets that have been seized.
When it first came out, the amount was about a billion dollars. Now, as I have said, closer to $1.8 billion, so catches the imagination, of course, the pictures of the cars, the houses, and so on.
So it is entirely understandable the amount of interest, and we are a major financial services centre.
Matter is before the courts, so as you said, not much I can say, investigations are ongoing. I can tell you that 10 persons, as some people know, have been charged.
On what will happen to the seized assets
The seized items are now under Police custody. That’s the way Police handle any seizure. If you file any Police report, a matter involving a $10,000 case and there’s a fraud, and Police seized some asset, they have a certain SOP, which is set out in the law.
They’ll keep it in custody, whether it’s $1.8 billion or you know, $18,000. The money or assets will have to be kept and dealt with. There’s a set procedure. The money and assets seized here will be dealt with in the same way that they’re dealt with in other cases.
What does that mean? Case will have to be dealt with in court. Once the case is over, the courts will decide how the assets will be dealt with. It depends on who the courts identify as owning the assets. These are issues that will have to be gone into based on whatever findings the courts make.
Suspects will have to serve sentences in Singapore if convicted
Again, how these people will be dealt with if they are found guilty or not found guilty, would be the same way in which others who are before our courts are dealt with.
Whenever a foreign national is convicted and sentenced in Singapore, that person will have to serve the sentence.
After completing the sentence – supposing it’s a custodial sentence, after serving jail – he or she may be deported out of Singapore to wherever the passport will allow the person to go.
You have a valid passport, it allows you to go somewhere, you can go to that place. But of course, if there is an extradition request from a country and assuming that, there is an agreement for extradition, extradition treaty, then we will comply with the treaty or arrangement.