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Singapore police uncover more gold bars, watches and other assets from money laundering scheme

People take photos of the Merlion statue along the Marina Bay area in Singapore, on June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim, File) People take photos of the Merlion statue along the Marina Bay area in Singapore, on June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim, File)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -

Singapore police say they have uncovered more luxury watches, gold bars and other assets from a massive money laundering scheme that was busted last month, bringing the total amount of assets seized or frozen to 2.4 billion Singapore dollars (US$1.75 billion).

The police had launched further operations related to a group of foreign nationals suspected to be involved in laundering the proceeds of their organized criminal activities, including scams and online gambling, police said in a statement on Wednesday.

The latest action followed multiple other raids across the city-state last month that saw properties, vehicles, luxury goods and gold bars worth SG$1 billion ($731 million) seized or frozen. Nine men and a woman from Cyprus, Turkiye, China, Cambodia and Vanuatu have been charged in court.

The case has cast a shadow on Singapore's status as a financial hub known for its low crime and clean image.

The latest operations saw additional assets seized or frozen, with the total estimate growing to SG$2.4 billion ($1.75 billion), police said Wednesday. This included bank accounts with a total estimated value of more than SG$1.127 billion ($824 million) and cash of more than SG$76 million ($55 million).

Police also seized 68 gold bars, 294 luxury bags, 164 luxury watches, 546 pieces of jewelry, 204 electronic devices and cryptocurrencies worth more than SG$38 million ($28 million). The statement said that prohibition of disposal orders were been issued against more than 110 properties and 62 vehicles with a total estimated value of more than SG$1.24 billion ($906 million), as well as bottles of liquor, wine and multiple ornaments.

"Investigations are ongoing," the statement added.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said last month that the arrests came after financial institutions filed suspicious transaction reports such as suspicious fund flows, dubious documentation of the source of wealth or funds, and inconsistencies or evasiveness in information provided to them.

It said in a statement that the case has highlighted that Singapore, as a global financial hub, remained vulnerable to transnational money laundering and terrorism financing risks. It said it would work together with financial institutions to strengthen defences against these risks. It warned of firm action against financial institutions that breach requirements or have inadequate controls against countering such risks. Top Stories

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