Gambling With a Reputation

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Singapore sentenced a Cambodian national to 13 months in prison Tuesday, the first defendant to plead guilty in the country’s biggest money laundering scandal, one that has damaged the Southeast Asian island-state’s reputation as a financial hub, CNBC reported.

Su Wenqiang had faced 11 charges relating to forgery and laundering criminal proceeds. Prosecutors charged him with two counts of money laundering following a deal to consider the remaining nine indictments for sentencing.

Police told CNBC that it has seized more than $4 million worth of assets from the defendant, including nearly $1.5 million in a bank account with United Overseas Bank, a Mercedes Benz vehicle, and jewelry from Tiffany’s.

Authorities arrested Su and nine others of Chinese origin over their involvement in the operation of an illegal, offshore remote gambling service out of the Philippines that catered to mainland Chinese clients.

Two other suspects are still on the run.

The case stunned the small city-state known for being Asia’s top financial center and strong reputation for the rule of law, according to Channel News Asia (CNA).

Singaporean authorities have so far seized more than $2 billion in assets in relation to the case.

Prosecutors told CNA that the case was vital to maintain Singapore’s reputation as a legitimate financial hub, adding that a harsh sentence must be given to deter other like-minded individuals from exploiting the country to launder funds.

Second Minister for Home Affairs, Josephine Teo told parliament, that criminals will try to exploit Singapore’s economic openness and strong reputation for the rule of law to launder money and create the appearance of legitimacy. It was therefore vital for Singapore’s reputation as a legitimate financial hub that money laundering offences be punished.

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