Woman 'missing' with $10m in remittances

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 5.1 yuan, compared with market rates of $1 to 4.6 yuan, according to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.

This attracted a rush from people to send money to relatives in China before Chinese 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 Yuan Yuan.

The 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 yesterday.

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 sent money back to Shaanxi through Ms Li around 10 times. Recently, she sent back $140,000, but that sum now appears to be missing.

Ms Liu said that when a group of alleged victims visited the boutique last Wednesday, Ms Li's husband was there but was unsure where his wife was, as he said they lead separate lives.

Evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported their domestic helper as saying they are a loving couple.

Before Ms Li allegedly vanished, she was carrying a suitcase and said she was going to the boutique, added the helper.

The Consumers Association of Singaporeadvised consumers to use remittance companies that are licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Woman 'missing' with $10m in remittances'. Print Edition | Subscribe