Singapore police have arrested 10 people and seized assets including properties and luxury cars worth about one billion Singapore dollars ($737m) as part of an investigation into a suspected money laundering ring.
The police conducted simultaneous raids on Tuesday across the city-state, they said in a statement on Wednesday evening, targeting a group suspected of laundering proceeds from “overseas organised crime activities including scams and online gambling”.
Along with 94 properties and 50 vehicles, police also seized cash, luxury bags, jewellery, watches, electronic devices, bottles of wine, documents with information on virtual assets, and a collection of ‘Bearbrick’ ornaments.
Those arrested were from China, Turkey, Cambodia, Cyprus and Vanuatu and were aged between 31 and 44, the Singapore police said.
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More than 400 officers took part in the raids, with the suspects were arrested from luxury bungalows and condominiums in some of Singapore’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
Eight people remain on the run, while 12 are assisting with the investigation, police said.
“Investigations are ongoing. More assets may be seized [and] bank accounts frozen,” the police statement said.
Singapore is a global financial hub and has strict laws against the laundering of illicit funds, with those found guilty of such crimes facing as many as 10 years in prison.
In a separate statement, the Singapore central bank said it has been “in touch with the financial institutions where the potentially tainted funds have been identified.”
It did not name the institutions.
David Chew, the director of the Commercial Affairs Department, which was involved in the raids, said the police would continue to target such illicit financial activity.
“We have zero tolerance for the use of Singapore as a safe haven for criminals or their families, or for the abuse of our banking facilities,” the city state’s Straits Times newspaper, quoted Chew as saying.
“Our message to these criminals is simple – if we catch you, we will arrest you. If we find your ill-gotten gains, we will seize them. We will deal with you to the fullest extent of our laws.”