Man accused of laundering over $10m in Covid-19 scam has case postponed after falling sick

Thye Wee Boon's case has been adjourned to March 3, 2021.

SINGAPORE - A 40-year-old man who was to face charges over allegations that he had laundered more than $10 million in a Covid-19 scam had his case postponed after coming down with a fever.

Defence lawyer Thong Chee Kun on Wednesday (Feb 24) told the court that his client, Thye Wee Boon, has to take a swab test.

His case has been adjourned to March 3.

Thye was to have faced 19 charges for offences including dealing with the benefits of criminal activities.

To date, the authorities have managed to recover more than $6.4 million of the amount taken in the ruse - the largest single recovery since the formation of the Singapore Police Force's (SPF) anti-scam centre, which was set up in June 2019.

Police were alerted in March last year that a French pharmaceutical company had been scammed of €6.636 million (S$10.64 million).

According to the European Union's law enforcement agency Europol, a suspect had taken the identity of a legitimate company and advertised the fast delivery of surgical masks and hand sanitisers.

"Once the pharmaceutical company transferred the funds to a bank in Singapore, the items were never delivered and the supplier became uncontactable," said the agency in a statement.

It added that the EU authorities informed their Singaporean counterparts and asked them to act swiftly.

"Having previously received a Suspicious Transaction Report from the recipient bank, Singaporean authorities were quick to act and were able to block part of the payment and to identify the man who had received the funds and subsequently arrested him on March 25 (2020)," said Europol.

SPF said Thye's identity was established by the Commercial Affairs Department and he was arrested on his return to Singapore from overseas on March 25 last year.

Preliminary investigations revealed that he had allegedly acquired the criminal proceeds and removed part of them out of Singapore.

A police spokesman added: "Through quick intervention and close collaboration with seven banks, namely UOB, OCBC, DBS, SCB, CIMB, Maybank and HSBC, the police's anti-scam centre managed to recover more than $6.4 million of the amount scammed.

"This is the biggest single recovery since the formation of the centre. Efforts are under way to trace and recover the remaining monies."

For unlawfully dealing with the benefits of ill-gotten gains, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.

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