Lawyer and realtor accused of not reporting to authorities a suspicious deal

SINGAPORE - A conveyancing lawyer and a real estate agent were charged on Thursday (Nov 16) with failing to report to the authorities a suspicious property deal involving a Chinese businesswoman convicted in China in relation to financial fraud.

Under the law, managing director of Sterling Law Corporation Kang Bee Leng, 56, and Tan Yen Hsi, senior marketing director of CBRE Realty Associates, are required to make a report to a "suspicious transaction reporting officer" when a deal looks like a bid to launder money or finance terrorist regimes.

This case involves Zhang Min, the former president of China's largest online peer-to-peer lender Ezubao, who was linked to one of China's biggest Ponzi scheme amounting to US$7.6 billion (S$10.3 billion).

Zhang, who was a client of Kang and Tan, had bought a house in Sentosa Cove's Lakeshore View .

Court documents say that on Jan 12 last year, Kang had reasonable grounds to suspect that more than $5 million used to buy the property in Zhang's name might represent the proceeds of criminal conduct.

The police said in a statement on Wednesday (Nov 15) that Zhang's arrest had been reported by various international and local media platforms.

"However, despite the adverse news reported on their client, they failed to file any STR (suspicious transaction reports) on the said private property purchase, which came to their attention in the course of their trade, profession, business or employment."

It added that the Commercial Affairs Department began investigating the Singaporean duo in May last year.

Zhang and 24 others had reportedly been sentenced to between three and 15 years' jail in Beijing over her involvment in financial fraud

The police statement underlined the importance of reporting suspicious transactions, saying it is "a key pillar of Singapore's anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorist regimes".

It added: "The Singapore authorities take a serious view towards the filing of such reports, and strongly urge reporting entities to continue their vigilance in detecting and reporting suspicious transactions."

Kang's case has been adjourned to Dec 14 while Tan will be back in court on Dec 21. They were each offered bail of $15,000.

If found guilty, they can be fined up to $20,000.