Major Singapore Banks Named in $740 Million Money-Laundering Scandal in Which Police Seized Millions in Crypto

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Top local and international banks in Singapore have found themselves entangled in one of the city-state’s biggest money-laundering scandals, encompassing over $740 million. 

Recent chargesheet filed against 10 individuals have unveiled a web of illicit financial activities that have implicated not only major banks but also executives from various sectors, Bloomberg reported.

These individuals, who were apprehended and charged in the recent month, are alleged to have held millions in funds originating from unlicensed moneylending and illegal gambling operations. 

The funds were reportedly held in esteemed financial institutions such as United Overseas Bank Ltd., Citigroup Inc., and RHB Bank Bhd. 

The accused even attempted to deceive other reputable banks including Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., Standard Chartered Plc, and CIMB Bank Bhd. through the use of counterfeit documents, as detailed in the charge sheets.

The scope of this scandal extends beyond the financial sector. Alongside the banks, entities ranging from property agents to precious metals dealers, and even golf clubs have been implicated. 

Accused Used Criminal Proceeds to Buy Crypto

The allegations against the accused take an even more intriguing turn with their purported use of ill-gotten gains. 

As per police, these individuals used criminal proceeds to buy luxury cars, upscale condominium units, and notably, Tether stablecoins—a form of cryptocurrency pegged to traditional currencies.

In a raid on August 15, 10 foreign individuals were arrested, from Cyprus, Cambodia, Dominica, China, Turkey and Vanuatu.

Some of the accused are said to have held vast sums within safe deposit boxes provided by Certis Cisco Security Pte., a security firm backed by Temasek Holdings Pte., a prominent state investor. 

Police also seized vast sums of cryptocurrencies, though the exact amount and name of cryptocurrencies is not revealed. 

Authorities Seek Documents From Major Financial Institutions

Most of the ten individuals that were arrested by the police are now facing further charges in court. 

While the authorities have sought documents from an array of financial institutions in connection to the case, these institutions were not disclosed.

The involvement of DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Bank of Singapore Ltd., both as creditors to investment firms linked to the accused points to the far-reaching consequences of this massive scandal. 

DBS registered security charges on an investment firm named Aiqinhai Investment Pte., while Bank of Singapore registered a charge on Xinbao Investment Holdings Pte., both tied to the indicted individuals.

Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has pledged to take “firm action” against any financial firms found to have violated anti-money laundering regulations. 

Some of the banks provided comments without mentioning the scandal.

A spokesperson for DBS expressed their commitment to making Singapore a place where criminals cannot find refuge, without specifically commenting on the case. Citigroup emphasized its collaboration with authorities to strengthen the financial system’s integrity, reaffirming its dedication to stringent governance and controls.