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Singapore Money Laundering Case Raises Concerns Over Online Gaming Proceeds, Says Lawyer

A recent high-profile money laundering case in Singapore has prompted discussions on the potential legal implications for licensed gaming operators outside the city-state whose funds are channeled into Singapore.

Singapore Money Laundering Case Raises Concerns Over Online Gaming Proceeds, Says Lawyer


Lau Kok Keng, a Tier 1 gaming lawyer from Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, highlighted that individuals involved in the case were prosecuted for laundering proceeds of crime, with forged documents used to facilitate payments into Singapore banks. He emphasized that Singaporean authorities consider funds derived from criminal activities, even if committed overseas, as proceeds of crime if the activity is illegal within Singapore.


The case involved approximately SG$3 billion ($2.23 billion) and comprised a network primarily of individuals of Chinese origin operating in the Philippine online gambling sector, targeting mainland Chinese players. Their conspicuous activities in Singapore, including lavish spending on parties, luxury cars, and rented accommodations, attracted the attention of authorities, leading to investigations and raids on associated locations.


Assets totaling around SG$2.1 billion ($1.56 billion) were frozen and forfeited to the state, mostly belonging to individuals who had fled Singapore. Lau Kok Keng clarified that these assets were considered proceeds of crime, specifically from online gambling activities, which are illegal under Singapore law if conducted with unlicensed overseas operators.

Cyprus Gaming License


The lawyer raised concerns over the legal status of Philippine-based online gaming operations linked to the money-laundering ring, questioning whether they were licensed. He noted the swift prosecution of apprehended individuals by Singaporean authorities, suggesting that the courts did not have the opportunity to determine whether gains from licensed overseas operators would also be deemed proceeds of crime.


Lau Kok Keng warned of a potential "chilling effect," where even fully licensed operations could face scrutiny, as purchasing property in Singapore by Philippine online gaming operators not licensed in Singapore might be perceived as laundering proceeds of crime.



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