SINGAPORE: A man was fined S$35,000 on Thursday (Jan 4) for operating an illegal remittance business from his home for nearly four years.
Ng Yi Sheng, 29, did not have a valid remittance licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to do this. In total, he and his wife remitted more than S$730,000 on behalf of mainly Thai nationals working here. The couple made 522 transactions and earned S$5,220 in commission between January 2013 and Dec 8, 2016.
Ng was also found guilty of not fully and accurately declaring to officers at Changi Airport Terminal 1, the movement of S$46,000 in cash out of Singapore on Oct 1, 2015, when he was travelling from Singapore to Thailand.
For that, he was fined S$8,000. By law, travellers are required to make a declaration if the money they carry in and out of the country exceeds S$20,000.
Five other similar charges were taken into consideration in sentencing. Ng had moved nearly S$200,000 out of Singapore between Apr 4, 2014 and Jun 9, 2016.
REMITTANCE SERVICE SPREAD “BY WORD OF MOUTH”
In early January 2013, Ng suggested that his wife, a Thai national, run a remittance business. As his wife was unemployed at that time, he thought this would help her earn some money using her Thai bank accounts.
According to the prosecutor it all started when Ng’s Thai colleagues at a nightclub approached him for help to remit money, knowing that his wife had Thai bank accounts. Ng agreed to help on the condition that he was paid a S$10 commission per transaction.
Eventually, his services “spread by word of mouth,” said the prosecutor, and more colleagues and friends approached him for help.
The husband-wife duo operated by collecting remittance funds in Singapore dollars. The funds will then be transmitted to Thailand using the wife’s accounts. The money was later disbursed in baht to the intended recipients based on the prevailing exchange rates. Ng also collected physical cash from his clients for remittance.
To ensure there were sufficient funds to run the business, Ng would also withdraw money from his bank account and get his friends or relatives to carry over physical cash from Singapore to Thailand. Ng would also do this himself at times.
In court, Ng’s lawyer Nichol Yeo argued that not only was Ng’s wife unemployed at the time, the couple was also expecting their first child. Mr Yeo said Ng welcomed the “additional (but small) source of income because of the financial pressures that he was facing”.
Mr Yeo also said Ng, who is now working as an IT technician, is “truly remorseful” for his actions.
Ng’s wife, who was an accomplice in the illegal remittance business, was given a conditional warning in lieu of prosecution.
For operating a remittance business without a valid licence, Ng could have been jailed up to two years fined up to S$100,000 or both under the Money-changing and Remittance Businesses Act.
For failing to fully and accurately report moving cash that exceeds the prescribed amount in and out of Singapore, Ng could have been jailed up to three years and fined S$50,000 under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. – CHANNEL NEWS ASIA
text KAMINI DEVADASS