Fined $10k for not flagging suspicious home deal

He was repeatedly reminded to complete a report of a suspicious transaction involving the sale of a Sentosa Cove house, but real estate agent Tan Yen Hsi refused to do so.

During investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department, he said he did not want to file the report as "you do not get money out of it" and that he "hates to do paperwork".

Tan, 37, who is no longer a real estate agent, was fined $10,000 yesterday after admitting that he had failed to alert the authorities that the monies used to buy the Lakeshore View property could have been proceeds from his client's criminal conduct.

The court was told Chinese national Zhang Min wanted to buy the house costing almost $24 million but Tan, who used to be a senior marketing director at CBRE Realty Associates, later found out she was linked to one of China's biggest Ponzi schemes involving $10.8 billion.

When he alerted his senior management about the matter, the firm's key executive officer told him to lodge a suspicious transaction report. Tan prepared a draft of the documents but refused to complete filing the report even though he was repeatedly reminded by the firm's assistant head of operations.

Zhang was the former president of Yucheng International Holdings Group, which launched China's largest online peer-to-peer lender Ezubao.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting said that after Tan found out Zhang wanted to buy the Sentosa Cove property, he referred her to Kang Bee Leng, who was then a managing director of Sterling Law Corporation, for the conveyancing transaction.

Kang, who is no longer with the law firm, was also fined $10,000 in April after admitting that she had failed to notify the authorities that almost $5.5 million involved in the property purchase could have stemmed from criminal activities.

On Jan 12, 2016, just a day before the scheduled completion of the transaction, Kang told Tan that Zhang had become uncontactable. Tan decided to perform online searches on the Yucheng Group and found out about his client's criminal activities.

Before handing out the sentence yesterday, District Judge Marvin Bay said Tan's failure to do his duty as a property agent was "liable to impose significant reputational risks on the image of Singapore as an incorrupt and transparent jurisdiction to invest and conduct business in".

The Sentosa Cove home deal was not completed as the remaining sum was left unpaid.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2018, with the headline Fined $10k for not flagging suspicious home deal. Subscribe