SINGAPORE: The days of pricey—think S$150,000 per month—renting out or even selling luxury mansions may have halted, at least for now, partly due to the largest money-laundering scandal in the country’s history. In August, police rounded up 10 foreign nationals, nine men and one woman, connected to a money-laundering case involving S$2.8 billion.

Last week, it was reported that two Good Class Bungalows (GCBs), one at Ewart Park and one on Nassim Road that cost at least S$100,000 in monthly rental fees, were back on the market again after having been vacated by tenants among those arrested in the money laundering sweep. GCBs are considered the country’s top property type and are houses with a maximum of two stories (excluding basements and attics) on 1,400 sqm of land in the choicest neighbourhoods.

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The large-scale case has caused the country’s financial institutions to tighten policies and has now, according to an Oct 31 piece in Bloomberg, affected the market for luxury properties as well. Significantly fewer high-end bungalows were sold by the end of September, Bloomberg said, citing data from real estate companies Knight Frank and Realstar Premier Group Pte.

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“The recent anti-money laundering blitz by the Singapore police force has tainted the luxury property market. It will take a while for the dust to settle and the market to forget this negative image of luxury real estate,” the piece quotes the executive director for List Sotheby’s International Realty, Mr Lewis Cha, as saying.

The owners of this type of real estate are now thinking twice about selling or renting them out and are exercising a greater degree of due diligence after the money laundering crackdown from the police.

A prospective tenant from Fujian, China, was even turned down completely, despite an offer of five years of rental fees in advance for a property that came with a S$100,000 a month price tag. The majority of the suspects in the money laundering case come from Fujian, authorities have said, added Bloomberg.

In August, authorities seized and froze around S$1 billion in assets, including luxury real estate, vehicles, luxury goods, gold bars, cryptocurrencies, and cars. The amount of money involved has grown since then. The 10 suspects—nine men and one woman—are Su Baolin, Su Haijin, Chen Qingyuan, Su Wenqiang, Lin Baoying, Zhang Ruijin, Wang Dehai, Su Jianfeng, Vang Shuiming and Wang Baosen, were arrested by the Commercial Affairs Department. /TISG

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