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Singapore jails Fujian native in US$2.2 billion money laundering case’s first conviction

Su Wenqiang, 32, pleaded guilty during a court hearing on Tuesday. He was sentenced to 13 months in jail, to be backdated to his arrest in August.

Su faced 11 charges including for forgery and laundering criminal proceeds through activities like buying multiple bottles of prized liquor and paying S$48,000 (US$35,860) a month to rent a luxury condominium near the city state’s Orchard Road shopping belt. The prosecution proceeded with two charges.

A strong message needed to be sent that money laundering is a serious offence and affects Singapore’s reputation as a financial hub, the prosecution told Su through an interpreter. Lawyers for Su had asked for a reduced sentence, arguing that the victims for the illegal acts were not in Singapore.

Su’s sentencing will mark the next chapter in a scandal that has ensnared the world’s largest banks and raised questions about the financial hub’s safeguards against illicit money flows. More developments are in store this week with at least one other suspect in remand also planning to plead guilty, according to a scheduled court hearing.

The raids captured huge attention locally, with S$1 billion (US$739.37 million) worth of luxury properties, cars, gold bars, handbags and jewellery initially seized.

Police had earlier said the 10 suspects were allegedly “laundering the proceeds of their overseas organised crime activities, including scams and online gambling”.

Additional reporting by Reuters