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Ten foreigners arrested as $735 million in cash and assets seized in Singapore

By Amarachi Orie, CNN

(CNN) — Ten foreign nationals have been arrested in Singapore on suspicion of committing offenses such as forgery and money laundering after about S$1 billion ($735 million) worth of cash and assets were seized in raids across the country.

Eight other people are wanted by the police, the Singapore Police Force said in a statement on Wednesday.

More than 400 officers conducted simultaneous raids in multiple locations on Tuesday.

Two gold bars, more than S$23 million ($17 million) in cash, more than 250 luxury bags and watches, more than 270 jewelry items, more than 120 electronic devices and 11 documents related to virtual assets were seized, according to police.

The force said it froze more than 35 bank accounts with a total estimated balance of more than S$110 million ($81 million) for its investigations and to prevent suspected criminal proceeds being spent.

Also targeted were 94 properties and 50 vehicles, with an estimated total value of more than S$815 million ($599 million), police added.

Ten people, aged between 31 and 44, have been arrested.

One of the suspects, a 40-year-old male Cypriot national, allegedly jumped out of the second-floor balcony of his residence when police ordered him to open his door. He was found by police hiding in a drain and was arrested, according to the police statement.

If found guilty, individuals charged with money laundering could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forgery for the purpose of cheating carries a similar prison sentence and could carry a fine.

David Chew, director of the Commercial Affairs Department at the Singapore Police Force, said: “We take the most serious stance against criminals laundering their criminal proceeds through our financial system. We will continue to work with law enforcement agencies and Financial Intelligence Units to detect, deter, and prevent Singapore from hosting such criminal elements.”

The Commercial Affairs Department had been alerted to the possible illicit activity by intelligence from suspicious transaction reports filed by financial institutions in Singapore, according to a statement from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday.

Ho Hern Shin, deputy managing director (Financial Supervision) at MAS, said in the statement that this case “highlighted that as a global financial hub, Singapore remains vulnerable” to transactional money laundering or terrorism financing.

She added that the authority and financial institutions “need to continue to work together to strengthen our defences against these risks.”

Singapore, known for its low crime rate, was ranked the world’s safest country in 2018 in US researchers Gallup’s Global Law and Order Report.

In 2021, there were 847 crimes committed in Singapore for every 100,000 people, according to data insights platform Statista – a 10-year high and a significant jump from 656 in 2020. Violent crime in the country is rare, with the increase being attributed to the rise in commercial crime cases.

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