2 Georgian men jailed for offences including stealing over $100k from money changer
A Georgian man who hatched a plan to commit theft in Singapore and stole US$74,300 ($101,861) from a money changer was sentenced to two years and two months’ jail on Wednesday.
Akhalaia Irakli, 46, chose Singapore to commit the offence and targeted the money changer at Peninsula Shopping Centre in Coleman Street as he felt that the Republic was a rich country.
On April 6, he flew into Singapore with his fellow countryman and accomplice Malishava Joni, 55, who was sentenced to two years’ jail also on Wednesday.
The pair pleaded guilty in August to offences including one count of theft each.
In earlier proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutor Dan Pan said that Irakli and Joni came to Singapore with a mix of counterfeit as well as genuine US dollar notes. The pair had fake euro notes with them.
On April 21, Irakli went to the money changer at Peninsula Shopping Centre and said that he wanted to purchase US$75,000 later that day.
He and Joni turned up at around 4.30pm. The sole proprietor of the outlet handed Irakli 750 pieces of US$100 notes in eight different bundles.
Irakli then took out US$700 in total from the bundles and paid for them in another currency that was not disclosed in court documents.
After that, he placed the remaining US$74,300 into three plastic bags which were then slipped into a black leather briefcase.
The DPP told the court in August that unknown to the victim, the black briefcase already contained three other plastic bags, each containing a bundle of notes.
The outermost note and innermost note of each bundle were genuine US$100 notes. The remainder of the notes were a mix of counterfeit US dollar and euro notes as well as genuine US$1 notes.
DPP Pan had told the court “The (two Georgians) had prepared these bundles of notes the night before, to make them appear as though they contained (all genuine monies), in order to trick the victim.”
Irakli then claimed that he wanted to pass the briefcase to the victim through the counter for “safekeeping” but could not do so as the opening of a glass panel there was too small.
In August, the DPP also said: “The accused and second accused...reopened the black leather briefcase, on the pretext of transferring the genuine US dollar notes to a smaller black clutch bag.
“However, (the two offenders) instead transferred the three plastic bags containing the counterfeit notes from the black leather briefcase to the black clutch bag.”
After that, the two Georgians handed the clutch bag containing the counterfeit notes to the victim for “safekeeping”, claiming that they would return to pay for and retrieve the genuine US dollar notes.
They made off with the US$74,300 and did not return.
The victim found out that he had been duped after he cut open the locked clutch bag and alerted the police after he spotted the counterfeit money.
The two offenders managed to board a plane at Changi Airport in an attempt to leave Singapore but were caught before it took off.
Separately, two other Georgians – Abralava Irakli, 37, and Darsania Tamazi, 70 – are also accused of committing a similar offence at another money changer in Little India in December 2022.
Abralava Irakli and Tamazi allegedly made off with €70,000 (S$101,335) and US$25,000. Their cases are pending.
Court documents did not disclose if their cases are linked to the current one.