Home singapore S$2.8b money laundering case: Bail denied for suspect who was 'able to obtain passports with ease'

S$2.8b money laundering case: Bail denied for suspect who was 'able to obtain passports with ease'

S$2.8b money laundering case: Bail denied for suspect who was 'able to obtain passports with ease'
Su Wenqiang, one of 10 suspects linked to a S$2.8 billion money laundering case, appeared in court via video-link where he was denied bail The Cambodian is facing two charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes ActSu’s defence counsel Sameer Amir Melber argued that his client be granted bail on the basis that the charges against him were not serious and that he presented no flight riskThe prosecution said that Su had admitted to having an associate who had provided him with a passport before 

By Jasmine Ong Published November 2, 2023 Updated November 2, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

SINGAPORE — A 31-year-old Cambodian charged over his alleged involvement in a high-profile billion-dollar money laundering case was on Thursday (Nov 2) denied bail after being deemed a high flight risk. 

Su Wenqiang, who last appeared in court in September to face another charge, now faces two charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Act.

One count is for allegedly using S$500,000 from his criminal activities to buy a Mercedes Benz AMG C63S, and another count is for purportedly possessing S$601,706 which were benefits from his alleged unlawful remote gambling offences.

Su is the latest among 10 suspects charged in connection with the case who have since been denied bail. 

Defence Counsel Sameer Amir Melber argued that even though the prosecution had deemed the charges against his client to be serious offences that were non-bailable, the prosecution must produce some element of evidence that his predicate offence contravenes Singapore’s laws.

“We submit that his involvement was not facilitated in Singapore and neither were there people who used it in Singapore. The remote gambling was based in the Philippines and licensed so that is not sufficient to deny the accused bail,” Mr Sameer said.

Referring to the prosecution’s position that Su is a flight risk, Mr Sameer disagreed with that characterisation and said that his client no longer has his passports and has no assets overseas, except for a house in Xiamen, China, which is under his wife’s name.

Mr Sameer added that if Su were to be granted bail, Su would be “more than happy” to subject himself to e-tagging or any other strict bail conditions that will prevent him from absconding.

In response to Mr Sameer, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Edwin Soh argued that the defence counsel had a “misconceived understanding” of the charges against his client because the charge criminalised a person’s benefits of criminal conduct in Singapore or elsewhere — which in this case also extends to Su’s alleged remote gambling service in Philippines.

DPP Soh also said that Su is a flight risk because he is not only a foreigner but also a wanted fugitive who has been evading the authorities in China for his alleged role in offering remote gambling services there.

“The accused’s past conduct shows that he can evade the law and uproot his family again to avoid a custodial sentence,” DPP Soh added.

During investigations, Su admitted that an associate had arranged for him to obtain a passport from the Pacific Islands nation of Vanuatu, which was later seized by the police during investigations. This showed that Su has the means to obtain various passports for travel even if the authorities had seized the ones he possessed, the prosecution argued.

Prior to his arrest, Su held valid passports from Cambodia, China and Vanuatu.

In delivering her decision to deny bail, District Judge Brenda Tan accepted that there was legal basis for the present charges Su now faces, based on the facts from the affidavits submitted by the prosecution.

She was also of the view that Su presents a high flight risk since he did not deny that he could obtain passports easily.

She said: “He did not dispute that he was able to obtain his passports from Cambodia and Vanuatu with ease even though he had never been to those countries.” 

She added that he also had the means to relocate with his family to another country.

Su is set to return to court on Dec 14 for a pre-trial conference.

If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to 10 years or fined up to S$500,000, or both, on each charge.