Connections to individuals under investigation

Singapore anti-money laundering operation reveals ties to Chinese illegal gambling syndicates

Reading time 2:07 min

Singapore authorities conducted one of the country's most extensive anti-money laundering operations last Tuesday, leading to the arrest of several foreign nationals. These suspects are believed to have connections to individuals under investigation in China for their involvement in illegal gambling activities.

Vang Shuiming, also known as Wang Shuiming, a 42-year-old Turkish national, is among the arrested individuals and is currently facing forgery charges in Singapore. He is reportedly a known associate of eight fugitives from China, where authorities uncovered an illegal gambling syndicate in May 2022.

The Chinese authorities have called upon these eight fugitives, namely Wang Shuiting, Shi Wenhui, Wang Zhiqiang, Jia Xueliang, Wang Jinwang, Wang Zaiyuan, Su Weijie, and Huang Yijiao, to return to assist in a probe which saw 131 people arrested in China and more than 10 million yuan ($1.38 million) seized.

Also among the foreigners arrested in Singapore is Wang Baosen, aged 31 and facing a money laundering charge in the country. He is allegedly linked to Wang Bingang, 34, and Wang Cailin, 36. These three Chinese nationals were previously investigated by Chinese authorities for their roles in operating illegal gambling websites.

Reports suggest that Bingang and Cailin launched a gambling website in their 20s, offering games such as blackjack, baccarat, and sports and e-sports betting. Their operations expanded rapidly, leading to a move to Bavet, Cambodia, near the Vietnam border.

The group hired extensively, recruiting individuals for various roles, including graphic design, customer service, and finance management. Family members were also involved in handling illicit funds acquired through the illegal gambling site.

The operation was closed around October 2014, handling around 980 million yuan in transactions at the time. In 2015, a district court in China sentenced Bingang and Cailin to three years in jail for running the illegal site, with other gang members also imprisoned.

Three other suspects facing money laundering charges in Singapore—Wang Dehai (a Cypriot national, aged 34), Su Jianfeng (a Vanuatu national, aged 35), and Su Wenqiang (a Cambodian national, aged 31)—are believed to be associated with another gambling group in China.

They have ties to Su Yongcan, 32, and Wang Huoqiang, 29, both of whom were reported to be fugitives in 2018. These individuals were among 72 investigated by Chinese authorities in 2017 as part of efforts to combat illegal gambling, which had surged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Online gambling is prohibited in China, but it witnessed significant growth during the pandemic. In 2021, the Ministry of Public Security reported that police investigated over 17,000 cases of cross-border gambling, leading to more than 80,000 arrests and involving over $151 billion in illegal transactions. Thousands of online gambling platforms, illegal payment platforms, underground banks, and gambling promotion platforms were also dismantled during the same year.

The ten individuals arrested in Singapore last week face a range of charges, including forgery and money laundering. They hold foreign passports from countries like China, Turkey, and Cambodia, but their origins are believed to be in Fujian, China.

Furthermore, twelve individuals are currently assisting in Singapore's investigations, while eight others are wanted and on the run. In connection with the case, the Singaporean police have seized, frozen, or issued orders prohibiting disposal of approximately $1 billion in assets, including 105 properties, vehicles, cash, and luxury goods.

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