$3b money laundering case: Cambodian Su Wenqiang gets jail, the first of 10 foreigners to be convicted

$3b money laundering case: Cambodian Su Wenqiang gets jail, the first of 10 foreigners to be convicted
Su Wenqiang admitted to two money laundering charges.
PHOTO: China Police

SINGAPORE —?Cambodian national Su Wenqiang has been sentenced to 13 months' jail after he pleaded guilty on April 2 to money laundering.

He is the first of 10 foreign nationals to be convicted over a probe that saw more than $3 billion in cash and assets seized.

The prosecution had sought 12 to 15 months' jail for Su, noting his guilty plea and that he is willing to forfeit his assets worth over $5.9 million to the state.

Su's defence lawyers had argued for 11 months' jail for their client.

The 32-year-old admitted to two money laundering charges over his possession of more than $600,000 in cash, which were benefits from unlawful remote gambling offences, and the use of $500,000 in criminal benefits to buy a Mercedes-Benz car.

Another nine charges was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Su, who held passports from Cambodia, Vanuatu and China, had appeared in court via video link at around 10.30am. He listened without expression as the statement of facts was read out to him.

The foreign national has been held in remand for about eight months since his arrest on Aug 15, 2023.

Su was apprehended in a good class bungalow along Lewis Road in Bukit Timah, which he was renting, when the police conducted islandwide raids at luxury homes across Singapore.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Teo told the court that sometime in 2019, Su was involved in an illegal remote gambling operation, which was based in the Philippines.

The business targeted people in China and ran a website which allowed its customers to gamble online. In China, online gambling is considered illegal.

The DPP said Su shared in the profits the syndicate made every month. In 2021, he moved to Singapore after his wife indicated that she wanted their children to study here.

While in Singapore, Su continued to be involved in providing the illegal gambling services, and often flew to the Philippines for the business.

In June 2023, he contacted a person identified in court as B, who was managing the finances of the remote gambling operation, and asked for his share of the proceeds. B's whereabouts was not mention in court.

Later that month, Su travelled to B's home with two pieces of luggage, and B gave him $1 million in cash. Su took the money to Singapore and placed it in a safe at the house he was renting.

During the police's raid in 2023, $601,706 in cash was found in Su's safe. The cash found represented benefits from criminal proceeds, said the prosecution.

The DPP said that it is an offence in China to provide an online gambling service for people there.

Su's involvement in providing the gambling service, while he was in Singapore, also constitutes an offence here.

In his submissions, DPP Edwin Soh highlighted what Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said in Parliament in October 2023 —?that some criminals are trying to exploit Singapore's openness to launder illicit funds.

The prosecutor said such activities will affect Singapore's reputation as a legitimate financial hub, adding that a suitable sentence must hence be meted out in the present out to deter like-minded individuals from using Singapore to launder their illicit gains.

The prosecution is seeking 12 to 15 months' jail for Su, noting that he is willing to forfeit his assets worth over $5.9 million to the state and his early plea of guilt.

Seeking 11 months' jail for his client, defence lawyer Nandwani Manoj Prakash said the confiscation of Su's assets is "complete", adding that the effect this will have on him is devastating as it leaves him with nothing.

The lawyer said that while Su's conduct was criminal in nature, the activities were not targeted at Singapore, and did not concern victims in Singapore.

Cypriot national, Su Haijin, 41, who faces 14 charges, is set to be the next accused to plead guilty, on April 4.

Chinese national Wang Baosen, 32, who faces two money laundering charges, is expected to plead guilty on April 16.

So far, the assets seized in the case include 207 properties, 77 vehicles, more than $1.45 billion in bank accounts, and over $76 million in cash in various currencies.

Thousands of bottles of liquor and wine, cryptocurrency worth more than $38 million, 68 gold bars, 483 luxury bags, 169 branded watches and 580 pieces of jewellery have also been seized.

ALSO READ:?$2.8b money laundering case: Su Wenqiang is a China fugitive

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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