Four moneychangers fined for role in Fiji heist involving $1m

Four moneychangers, who failed to record transactions involving nearly $720,000 of stolen Fiji dollars, were fined on Wednesday. Three of them were fined $15,000 each on one charge. The fourth, Abdul Jaleel N. K. Mohamed Ali, 53, was fined $24,000 as he committed two such offences.

The Money-Changing & Remittance Business Act requires licensees to keep a complete record of transactions of above $5,000. The four men had pleaded guilty last week.

The court heard then that three port workers broke into a container on a ship docked at Jurong Port on Aug 19, 2010, and stole one million Fiji dollars (S$713,000). The money, all in $20 notes, was part of a shipment of newly printed currency worth 202 million Fiji dollars en route from London to the Pacific island nation. The theft was discovered when the container arrived in Suva, capital of Fiji.

An Interpol alert was sent out and officers from Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) discovered that within three days of the theft, an unknown man had exchanged $340,000 Fiji dollars for Singapore currency on two occasions at Abdul Jaleel's Anisha & Riyas outlet at People's Park Centre.

About the same time, another man converted $380,000 Fiji dollars into local money with Amir Hamja Shaik Dawood, 84, the owner of the Twin Towers Exchange along Eu Tong Sen Street.

On Aug 22, King Silk House moneychanger in Scotts Road bought $150,000 Fiji dollars from Anisha & Riyas. Its sole proprietor Sheik Allavudeen S. S. Omar, 53, then sold this amount to Nizamudeen D. M. Syed Ahmad, 51, the owner of Musfirah Trading located in Orchard Road.

All these transactions were not recorded and had hindered CAD investigations to recover the money, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Karin Lai Yiling.

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