$100m seized in one white-collar crime case

More than $115 million of allegedly tainted money was seized by the police last year in cases of white-collar crime, as the number of people charged and convicted over laundering offences hit a fresh peak.

Of that total, about $100 million came from one case, a police spokesman told The Straits Times.

Though he declined to provide details, that single haul was almost twice as much as the total amount of $54 million seized in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, a combined total of more than $65 million was seized.

Last year's figure was also the highest since 2009.

The figures were reported in the Commercial Affairs Department's (CAD) annual report released two months ago.

In the report, CAD director Tan Boon Gin said the restructuring of the department has enabled it to become "more threat focused".

The department, which wants to be known as the Financial Police, has hired 80 new officers in the last two years who could be deployed more strategically because of the organisational changes, he added.

Among the changes, branches were expanded into divisions and more resources were allocated in specific areas.

For example, securities fraud, previously a branch, now has three departments, including one dedicated to investigating crimes committed against public companies.

The financial intelligence unit, in charge of detecting money offences from raw data, was expanded from a branch to a full-fledged division with four branches, including for analysis and field research.

This was done to make sure that the unit's regime is "robust enough to handle the suspicious transaction reports generated by the world's fourth largest financial centre", said Mr Tan.

Some of the changes were made in anticipation of future trends. For instance, the scope of regulation may soon include manipulation of financial benchmarks, said Mr Tan.

"Recent events in the stock market also suggest an increase in the scale and complexity of market abuse," he noted.

The CAD received 17,975 reports of suspicious transactions in 2012 which led to 71 convictions related to money laundering that year.

In 2010, it obtained 11,934 reports and made 18 convictions.

In the report, the CAD highlighted several high-profile cases prosecuted last year.

One of them involved a Chinese local government official, Li Huabo, 51, who was convicted of remitting over $5 million of stolen government funds into bank accounts here.

Li was sent to jail for 15 months.

The department declined to reveal how many cases from last year went to court or the number of reports it received.