Assets seized in Singapore money laundering case now at $2bn

SINGAPORE (Reuters): Total assets seized in a major money laundering case in Singapore have reached S$2.8 billion ($2bn), with more arrests and seizures possible, a government minister said on Tuesday.

In a speech to lawmakers, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said the case was one of the city-state’s largest anti-money laundering operations, and was on the radar of police since 2021 after the filing of suspicious transaction reports by financial institutions.

“We started investigations because we suspected that offences had been committed in Singapore. Once we confirmed our suspicions, we acted,” said Teo.

In simultaneous raids in mid-August, authorities seized gold bars, designer handbags and fistfuls of jewellery, as well as scores of properties and luxury cars, in a haul that shocked the wealthy nation known for low crime rates.

Police said the 10 suspects were allegedly “laundering the proceeds of their overseas organised crime activities, including scams and online gambling”.

Teo said rumours that the operation happened because of pressure from authorities in China were “completely untrue”.

The large amounts seized in the case has been the talk of the town in Singapore, which has attracted vast investments and private wealth since the pandemic but is generally known for having low crime rates.

Latest figures from the central bank show that total assets under management in Singapore rose 16 per cent in 2021 to S$5.4 trillion, compared with a global increase of 12pc to $112tr the same year.