Woman helped to remit nearly $400k to China in criminal proceeds linked to SkillsFuture scam

The Chinese national helped to remit criminal proceeds for two men linked to the $40-million scam involving SkillsFuture Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A woman ran an illegal remittance business and in less than a year, she remitted more than 12 million yuan (S$2.42 million) to designated bank accounts in China, as requested by her clients.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Hsiao Tien said that Chinese national Tang Cheng also helped to remit criminal proceeds totalling $390,000 for two men linked to a scam involving SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

The scam, which has been described as the largest case of fraud perpetrated against a public institution in Singapore, involved nearly $40 million.

Under the SSG scheme, a Singapore business entity that had sent its employees for skills training courses with registered training providers can apply for subsidies.

The syndicate used nine shell companies to commit the offences, submitting more than 8,000 claims to SSG between May and October 2017.

One of the men, driver Roger Quek Si Guang, 33, was sentenced to 3½ years' jail in February after pleading guilty to six counts of money laundering.

The case against the second man, Sim Soon Lee, 42, and most of the other alleged members of the syndicate, are pending.

Tang, 45, a Singapore permanent resident, was sentenced on Friday (April 26) to six weeks' jail and a fine of $15,000 after pleading guilty to one count of carrying out a remittance business without a licence.

The court heard that between March 2014 and July 2017, she worked as a customer service officer for Golden Dragon Remittance, which is a licensed firm.

But on the side, she ran her own illegal operation between March and November 2017, during which she carried out 73 remittances on behalf of 10 people.

DPP Tan told District Judge Adam Nakhoda: "These individuals would generally meet the accused at her house to pass her Singapore Dollars (SGD) in cash, or transfer SGD into Singapore bank accounts belonging to the accused or her friends.

"In return, the accused would help to remit the equivalent amount in Renminbi (RMB) from her own or her friends' bank accounts in China, to designated bank accounts in China as requested by these individuals. The accused carried out the remittances in her personal capacity and not as part of her job scope at Golden Dragon."

Unlike licensed remittance firms, Tang did not charge her clients service fees for remitting their money.

The DPP added: "She would only ask her customers to pay any administrative fees charged by the banks... The accused claimed that she would usually offer her customers an exchange rate that is around 0.02 RMB lower than the prevailing market rate.

"Although customers received a less favourable exchange rate, they saved on service fees. Based on the accused's admission of her offered exchange rate, the estimated profits for her remittance business were at least RMB49,555.86."

Court documents did not say how her offences came to light but on Nov 22, 2017, the authorities seized nearly $156,000 from a safe in her home. More than $10,000 was returned to her and the rest were funds from her unlicensed remittance business.

Tang is out on $10,000 bail and will surrender herself at the State Courts on May 10 to begin serving her sentence.

For running a remittance business without a licence, she could have been jailed for up to two years and fined a maximum of $100,000.

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