Politics

Cash, cars and homes seized in $735m Singapore anti-money laundering raids

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Singapore police have seized about S$1bn ($735m; £578m) – including luxury homes, cars and watches – in one of its biggest anti-money laundering probes.

Gold bars, designer handbags, wine and S$23m in cash were among the items seized in the raids.

Police arrested ten people in the operation, all of whom held foreign passports.

Raids of this size are rare in Singapore, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

The Singapore Police Force said in a statement that simultaneous raids were held across the city-state on Tuesday.

It added that 94 properties, including houses in some of the country’s most sought after areas, were seized, along with 50 vehicles.

Ten people, aged between 31 and 44, were arrested for alleged money laundering and forgery offences. Police said that those arrested had passports from China, Cambodia, Turkey and Vanuatu.

The group was “suspected to be involved in laundering the proceeds of crime from their overseas organised crime activities including scams and online gambling,” according to the police.

Police said the cash seized was in Singapore bank notes and other currencies.
“We have zero tolerance for the use of Singapore as a safe haven for criminals,” said David Chew, director of the police’s Commercial Affairs Department, which investigates white-collar crime.

“Our message to these criminals is simple – if we catch you, we will arrest you. If we find your ill-gotten gains, we will seize them. We will deal with you to the fullest extent of our laws,” he added.

Police said another 12 people were assisting with investigations, while eight others are currently on its wanted list.

The country’s central bank and financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said it had been in contact with financial institutions “where the potentially tainted funds have been identified”.

It added that it would take “firm action” against institutions which did not meet official anti-money laundering requirements.

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