20 Apr 2021
A member of a syndicate linked to S$2.5 million worth of cross-border investment scams, perpetuated via shell companies with fake office fronts at Marina Bay Financial Centre, was given 12 years and one month’s jail on Monday (Apr 19).
China national Wei Yong, 44, gambled away most of his criminal proceeds, transacting a total of S$30 million at Singapore’s casinos, and was unable to make any restitution.
Wei pleaded guilty to five charges, including cheating and possessing a fake Myanmar passport. Another six charges were considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Wei was an odd-job worker in Hubei and Beijing before joining a syndicate sometime in 2015 and 2016. The group came up with a plan in Beijing in 2016 to set up and use shell companies in order to cheat people of their money.
The shell companies included American Ageas PE Fund Inc, Pfizer Private Fund Inc and Nanyang Capital Management.
The syndicate aimed to deceive high net-worth victims into believing that the shell companies could raise investment funds on behalf of their businesses, by portraying an image that the companies operated in established financial hubs such as the United States and Singapore.
They would ask the victims to transfer administrative fees to facilitate fundraising and cover associated costs. The victims – who were from China and South Korea – were also invited to attend talks and workshops on finance, investments and business in China, Singapore and the USA.
To reinforce the impression that the shell companies had a credible business presence in Singapore, the victims were flown over and invited to a business office in the Marina Bay Financial Centre in Singapore’s central business district.
Members of the syndicate, including the accused, would also be dressed professionally and in the office to perpetuate the scam of a legitimate business.
In reality, the group rented meeting locations on an ad-hoc basis to deceive the victims and get them to sign contracts at rented boardrooms, before instructing them to transfer fees via remittance services.
By Lydia Lam, CNA, 19 April 2021
Read more at CNA
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