Former lounge singer 'disappears with $10m in remittance money'

 A former lounge singer who offered to remit money for Chinese nationals has allegedly absconded with more than $10 million of their savings.
A former lounge singer who offered to remit money for Chinese nationals has allegedly absconded with more than $10 million of their savings.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - A former lounge singer who offered to help fellow Chinese nationals and performers remit money back home at cut-price rates has allegedly disappeared with more than $10 million of their savings.

Ms Li Xia, 38, a permanent resident here who runs a boutique and beauty salon in North Bridge Road with her Singaporean husband, offered to convert $1 to RMB5.1, compared with market rates of $1 to RMB 4.6, according to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.

Alleged victims told the newspaper that this attracted a rush from people to send money to their families in China before the Lunar New Year.

The Chinese Embassy in Singapore told The Straits Times that it has contacted relevant departments here, including the police. "We have noticed this case and attach great importance to it," said spokesman Mr Yuan Yuan.

Police would not comment on the case or confirm how many police reports have been made.

Some of Ms Li's clients discovered they could not contact her four or five days ago, and she has not been home for at least three days, Zaobao reported on Saturday.

She has lived in Singapore for at least 10 years, and is originally from Chongqing, China.

Dancer Liu Si Qi, 24, told Zaobao that she has ordered costumes from Ms Li over the past three years and sent money back to Shaanxi through Ms Li around 10 times. Recently she sent back $140,000 to renovate her family home, but that sum now appears to be missing.

Ms Liu told Zaobao that when a group of victims visited the boutique on Wednesday, Ms Li's husband was there but was unsure where his wife was and he claimed they lead separate lives.

But according to the couple's domestic helper in Hougang, they are a loving couple, evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported. The helper said that before Ms Li disappeared, she was carrying a suitcase and heading to the boutique.

Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore, advised consumers to use remittance companies that are licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.