Singapore Illegal Gambling, Money Laundering Lead to Large Crime Bust

Posted on: August 18, 2023, 08:06h. 

Last updated on: August 31, 2023, 02:47h.

Authorities in Singapore have broken up a large criminal gang that made a living operating illegal gambling platforms and laundering money. The seizures of cash have led the operation to be called one of the largest police actions in the country’s history.

Large stacks of cash found by Singapore police during recent raids
Stacks of cash Singapore police found during recent raids. The money was found as police investigated allegations of money laundering and illegal gambling. (Image: Singapore Police Force)

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) collected approximately SGD$1 billion (US$736 million) during the raids, according to a press release. They also arrested 10 people in the process, although some of the accused didn’t go quietly.

All of the individuals, who range from 31 to 44 of age, are reportedly foreign nationals with passports from countries like Turkey, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, and other locales. Some of them even had multiple passports issued by different countries. They’re all still in jail after a judge denied them bail.

Well-Coordinated Assault

At the crack of dawn on August 15, the raids unfolded across Singapore, meticulously executed simultaneously against 94 locations by a force of more than 400 SPF personnel. During the operation, the SPF seized an array of valuables, including vehicles, watches, high-end purses, and more.

In addition to those items, which exceeded 100, there was also an extensive collection of gold and silver and cryptocurrency wallets. The SPF didn’t specify their value, but said that just one of the raids discovered SGD50 million (US$41.2 million) in cash.

There are reportedly links to the global financial institution Citibank as well, though there’s no indication the bank played an active role. Instead, it may have most likely been an unwitting participant in the money laundering schemes.

The raids went off without any problems, except for one person who tried to make a run for it. That suspect, who was reportedly holding a Cypriot passport, jumped from a second-story balcony, which resulted in multiple fractures of his hands and feet. The authorities are still trying to find eight more suspects.

Investigation Leads to Raids

The Singapore government had become aware of certain funds that they believed were connected to the illegal drug trade and gambling. Specifically, with the country cracking down on compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) policies, they discovered that a number of falsified documents were used to open bank accounts.

In response, the government took action by establishing a dedicated team to conduct an extensive inquiry. That helped them link 85 bank accounts that held SGP108.7 million (US$80 million), spurring the subsequent raids.

The judge rejected the requests for bail in order to prevent the suspects from being able to collude with others on their stories. They’ll all return to a courtroom next week in order to start their trials.

Being found guilty of money laundering in Singapore can carry a fine of up to SGD500,000 (US$367,000) and 10 years in prison. The same penalties can be imposed for counterfeiting. Falsifying documents carries a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine.