Man jailed for buying houses on behalf of China national, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Man jailed for buying houses on behalf of China national

A Singaporean man was involved in the purchase of three houses in East Coast Road worth more than $6 million in total and a Chinese national was the one who had paid for the landed properties, the court heard.

Each house was not “non-restricted residential property” and foreigners are normally not entitled to buy such homes.

On March 5, Tan Hui Meng, 57, was sentenced to two years, three months and three weeks’ jail.

The undischarged bankrupt and shareholder of local firm called Hwampoa, was also fined $3,000.

After a trial, District Judge Jasvender Kaur had convicted him of eight charges in January, including three under the Residential Property Act.

According to court documents, Chinese national Zhan Guotuan, 59, had paid for the three properties – identified in court documents as J1, P1 and M1 – and the Singapore permanent resident’s case is still pending.

The prosecution told the court that the plan was for him to buy all the houses along a certain row in East Coast Road and redevelop them into a condominium.

They added that Tan was Zhan’s associate in the Chinese national’s redevelopment business.

According to Tan, the estimated profit from the land redevelopment at East Coast Road was over $50 million, and he was to get 20 per cent of profits from two of Zhan’s firms.

In their closing submissions, deputy public prosecutors Suhas Malhotra and Louis Ngia stated that Zhan was a wealthy businessman who had shares in about 100 organisations in China

He also had businesses in the steel industry in Indonesia, Laos, and Thailand. At the time of the offences, his annual income was around $7 million.

He had applied to be a permanent resident (PR) in Singapore through the Economic Development Board’s global investor programme, under which he and his two brothers, committed around $1.5 million as investment in Singapore.

Zhan became a PR here around 2003 or 2004, the court heard.

The DPPs told Judge Kaur: “(Zhan) was in the business of property development in Singapore. The business plan was simple: (Zhan) through his companies, would buy landed properties in Singapore, demolish the houses, develop small-scale condominiums on the land and sell the units.”

They added that P1 was worth $2.3 million and on Jan 30, 2007, Tan paid a 10 per cent deposit of $230,000 for it.

The court heard that he funded this deposit with a cheque for $170,000 issued by one of Zhan’s firms, Alphaland International.

A cashier’s order for $800,000 was also delivered to the seller’s law firm and the monies came from another one of Zhan’s companies, called Xin An Technology Group.

A housing loan of nearly $1.3 million was taken in Tan’s name from a bank, said the DPPs, adding that the property was purchased in April 2007 before it was transferred to him the following month.

According to court documents, J1 was bought for $1.55 million in the name of Guan Aimei, the wife of one of Alphaland’s employees.

The DPPs told Judge Kaur that Guan had followed Tan’s instructions and signed the necessary purchase documents including one involving a mortgage loan from a bank.

On July 2, 2007, J1’s legal title was transferred to her.

The prosecutors said that Tan, Guan’s husband, and another manager of one of Zhan’s firms agreed to set up Hwampoa for the purpose of holding the East Coast Road properties.

Court documents stated that Tan incorporated the company on July 23, 2007, with a paid-up share capital of two $1 shares, each owned by him and Guan.

On Jan 9, 2008, M1 was sold to Hwampoa for $2.4 million.

The prosecutors told the court: “The money to buy M1 was largely paid from bank loans, all of which were later redeemed using Alphaland’s monies.”

According to the DPPs, after these houses were bought, they were “sold’ to Zhan’s son and nephew, with Tan arranging the transactions. Court documents did not state whether or not Zhan’s son and nephew are also Chinese nationals.

However, the prosecution said that Zhan had paid for the houses and they were “returned” to him.

Guan was earlier fined $5,000.

In their sentencing submissions, DPPs Ngia and Foo Shi Hao urged the court to sentence Tan to a fine and up to four years and six months’ jail.

Stressing that he had repeatedly infringed Singapore’s land policy, they added: “His aim was to eventually buy up all seven properties along East Coast Road on behalf of (Zhan), for redevelopment into a condominium.”

Tan will be appealing against his conviction and sentence. His bail was set at $60,000 on March 5.