Billion-dollar money laundering case: Charities urged to review donor records from Jan 2019
The Commissioner of Charities (COC) on Friday urged charities to review their donor records from as far back as January 2019, to see if persons of interest linked to the $2.8 billion money laundering case had donated money to them.
In an advisory seen by The Straits Times, the COC said charities should file suspicious transaction reports, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that any cash or in-kind donations may be connected to any criminal activity.
The advisory included a list of persons of interest in Singapore’s largest money laundering case, to facilitate the review.
It added: “Charities that have received donations from the persons of interest and/or related entities should carefully consider the action(s) you will take in respect of these donations, bearing in mind the potential legal and reputational risks if it comes to light that your charity had accepted donations from the persons of interest and/or related entities.”
Over the past week, ST reported how several charities received donations from some of the 10 accused in the case.
On Aug 15, more than 400 officers led by the Commercial Affairs Department raided locations including Tanglin, Bukit Timah, Orchard Road, Sentosa and River Valley.
Nine men and one woman, who were all originally from China, were charged the next day with offences including money laundering, forgery and resisting arrest.
The first sign of trouble appeared in 2021 when the authorities noticed possibly forged documents being used to substantiate sources of funds in bank accounts here, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said in Parliament on Oct 3.
After an extensive probe in 2022, the police uncovered a web of people allegedly transferring money to Singapore from abroad that was suspected to be earned from criminal activities. Some of the people were connected by family ties.
Some of the accused were said to have been involved in charitable activities before their arrest.
According to court submissions from the prosecution on Thursday, Turkish national Vang Shuiming, 42, who is also known as Wang Shuiming, obtained passports from Turkey, Vanuatu and Cambodia by making donations and financial contributions to those countries.
Vang faces five charges – one for using a forged document and four for money laundering.
Mrs Teo, who is also Minister for Communications and Information, said on Oct 3 that some of the local charities that received the donations had ring-fenced the money, while others had lodged police reports and planned to surrender the cash to the police.
She added then the COC would be issuing an advisory to encourage all charities to review donor records.
Among the organisations that confirmed they had received money from the 10 accused was Rainbow Centre, which said it had received $72,450 from three of the 10 people, and it will be reviewing its policies.
The Community Chest received $30,000 and the President’s Challenge got more than $350,000 from individuals whose names are similar to those of the people charged.
Lions Befrienders, a social service agency that serves the elderly, said it received $5,000 from one of the 10 in 2022 and lodged a police report about it.
The name of one of the 10 also appeared in the National Kidney Foundation’s annual reports from 2020 to 2022, in a list of people who donated at least $5,000 annually to the organisation.