SINGAPORE: The President’s Challenge and Community Chest have disclosed that they received substantial donations totalling over S$380,000 from individuals with names similar to those implicated in a high-profile billion-dollar money laundering case.
In August, an islandwide anti-money laundering operation led to the arrest of 10 suspects, and the subsequent seizure and freezing of assets, which have now escalated to a staggering S$2.8 billion from the initial S$1 billion. However, the charities did not publicly reveal the identities of the donors connected to the ongoing investigation.
The President’s Challenge acknowledged that they have identified donations exceeding S$350,000 from individuals sharing names with those charged in the money laundering case, as confirmed by a charity spokesperson on Wednesday (Oct 11).
In a separate statement on the same day, Charmaine Leung, managing director of Community Chest, revealed that the organization received S$30,000 in donations from individuals whose names resemble those of the money laundering suspects currently facing charges in court.
Both charitable organizations promptly filed police reports and suspicious transaction reports (STR) regarding the donations they had received. Moreover, they assured the public that donations disbursed to their benefiting agencies would not be affected.
In collaboration with the Commissioner of Charities, both charities are working to determine the appropriate course of action regarding these questionable donations.
Community Chest, the philanthropy and engagement arm of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), is responsible for fundraising efforts that benefit over 100 social service agencies. The President’s Challenge was established in 2000 by former President S R Nathan with the primary aim of assisting the less fortunate in Singapore.
During a parliamentary session on Oct 3, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo highlighted that some of the arrested individuals had made contributions to various charitable organizations in Singapore. She mentioned that some charities had decided independently to ringfence these donations, while others have chosen to make police reports and intend to surrender the funds to the authorities.
She also disclosed that the Commissioner of Charities will issue an advisory urging all charities in Singapore to review their donor records to ascertain whether they have received donations from the arrested individuals and entities connected to them. Charities are encouraged to file the necessary suspicious transaction reports to assist in the ongoing investigation.
As the investigations into the billion-dollar money laundering case continue, the total value of seized assets and cash continues to grow. Currently, the combined worth of seized properties and vehicles stands at more than S$1.24 billion, with 152 properties subject to prohibition of disposal orders. Among these properties are 94 residential units and eight landed homes at Sentosa Cove.
Since the initiation of the probe, 12 additional vehicles have been seized, bringing the total to 62, including luxury brands such as Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Authorities have also seized more than S$1.45 billion from various bank accounts.
In addition to the monetary assets, the authorities have also confiscated cash, including foreign currencies valued at over S$76 million, as well as cryptocurrencies exceeding S$38 million.
Luxury goods confiscated as part of the investigation have nearly doubled in quantity, with a total of 1,004 items. These include 294 branded bags from high-end fashion houses such as Hermes, Dior, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton, 164 luxury watches including Rolex and Patek Philippe timepieces, as well as 546 pieces of jewellery.
The investigation into the billion-dollar money laundering case continues to be a significant concern for both authorities and charitable organizations in Singapore, as the scale of the assets involved and the scope of the criminal operation continue to expand.