SG’s $1 Billion Money Laundering Saga: What GCBs & High-End Condos Did The Culprits Stay At?

18 August 2023 | BY

Their GCBs had rooftop pools, golf simulators, and built-in hotpot holders.

money laundering

It’s no secret that Singaporeans love a good scandal. But when it involves privileged non-Singaporeans who are money laundering on our shores – now that’s juicy. The scandal of the week involves 10 foreigners, 94 properties, 50 vehicles, over 250 luxury handbags and watches plus a collection of Bearbricks, all valued at around $1 billion.

Plenty of other news outlets like Must Share News have already cross-examined the 10 people who were arrested and their money laundering misdeeds. So rather than take you through their nationalities again, here’s a peek into their staggering property portfolio. And before you ask, no, they do not own any black-and-white bungalows on Ridout Road.

94 properties were seized

guz architects 7b bishopsgate7B Bishopsgate was designed by Guz Architects.
Image credit: Guz Architects

On 15th August, the Singapore Police Force conducted simultaneous raids across multiple luxury properties in Singapore to arrest 10 people. The arrested were all residing in places like GCBs, swanky condos in the city, and Sentosa Cove villas, so they definitely weren’t hurting for cash. After all, they are being suspected of forgery and money laundering.

In total, prohibition of disposal orders was issued on 94 properties and 50 vehicles worth around $815 million. While the police did mention the rough location of the GCBs and condos, sleuths on local forums like Reddit, Hardware Zone, and us at Uchify have figured out more information about the properties that were involved in this saga.

The GCB at Bishopsgate where the Turkish national Vang Shuiming was arrested is said to be the one that was rented out at a record-breaking $150,000 per month back in 2020 according to EdgeProp. Back then, people were already speculating how the tenant could afford it. Now we know.

money laundering 7b bishopsgateImage credit: Guz Architects

The Bishopsgate GCB was designed by Guz Architects, the same firm that designed the iconic Fish House at Sentosa Cove. The sprawling compound boasts a rooftop pool with a see-through floor that looks down into the central atrium – that’s a term that can only be applied to homes that are of this stature.

Its shady tenant aside, this GCB is one of the most lush homes we’ve seen so far, which is a signature design of Guz Wilkinson.

rooftop pool 7b bishopsgateStunning.
Image credit: Guz Architects

Local newspaper Shin Min Daily News also did some leg work, heading down to Ewart Park to see if they could get any tea from the neighbours of one of the people arrested at a GCB there. Lo and behold, the reporter managed to get a picture that a resident took of Su Haijin, a Cypriot national, being arrested by the police.

su haijin being arrested - credit to shin min daily newsSu Haijin is being arrested in real-time.
Image credit: Shin Min Daily News

The neighbour who took the picture also shared that Haijin was merely a tenant of the bungalow and had moved in around 2019. This corroborates other reports that a GCB was rented out around that period for $85,000/month.

ewart park gcbThe GCB on Ewart Park that one of the foreign nationals were arrested.
Image credit: Google Maps

Whatever Haijin was paying, his GCB was big enough to hold a golf simulator, a karaoke room, and a pool according to The Business Times. His dining room also had built-in hotpot holders so he and his family never had to mingle with the bourgeoisie at HaiDiLao or Beauty In The Pot.

canninghill piers capitaland money launderingImage credit: Capitaland

It’s not just the GCBs that are in the limelight. The local gossip rags also figured out that one of the money launderers was the same person that bought 20 units at the luxury residence Canninghill Piers for $85 million. Commenters who speculated back then about the shady origins of this buyer’s wealth were probably not far off the mark.

pearl island sentosa covePearl Island in Sentosa Cove.
Image credit: Sentosa Cove 360

Another location that saw a flurry of activity was Pearl Island in Sentosa Cove. 2 Chinese nationals were arrested in their bungalow here for forgery. Together, they owned 9 properties and 5 vehicles worth around $106 million. Seeing as a bungalow on Pearl Island cost anywhere between $15-$25 million, it’s very plausible that they bought instead of rented it, unlike their peers at Ewart Park and Bishopsgate.

How could foreigners buy property in Singapore?

As you might know, foreigners are only allowed to buy certain pieces of property in Singapore, mainly private condos, executive condos, and landed homes in Sentosa Cove. They can also purchase landed properties in the entirety of Singapore, so long as special permission has been granted by the Singapore Land Authority.

money laundering carsSome of the luxury vehicles seized include Bentleys and Rolls Royces.
Image credit: Singapore Police Force

Taking into account all the reports and market prices of the GCBs, it’s safe to say that the GCBs the foreigners were arrested at were probably merely being rented out to them, and they did not own them at all.

For one, a GCB at Bishopsgate can set you back around $65M, which is the price the wife of Fragrance Hotel’s boss paid for her Bishopsgate bungalow back in 2022. And considering how new 7B Bishopsgate is – it was constructed in 2020 – its value is probably estimated at around $60-$70 million.

Even so, 94 properties owned by these foreigners were seized; some of those who got arrested had up to 13 properties even under their name. This begs the question: how much did they pay in Additional Buyers Stamp Duty?

Assuming they bought their properties before the rate hike in April 2023, they had to pay 30% per property. If they bought any between April to now, they paid a whopping 60% in property taxes.

Other items seized include luxury cars, handbags, and watches

money laundering bearbricksImage credit: Singapore Police Force

It was not just swanky condos and fast cars that were seized by the Singapore Police Force. Other material possessions of the foreigners were also taken away, including:

  • Luxury handbags from Hermes and other brands in rare and exotic skins
  • Luxury timepieces from all the atas watchmakers like Richard Mille and Patek Philippe
  • Hundreds of bottles of whisky from Macallan
  • A collection of Bearbricks that are worth up to $22,000 each

Some of our favourite comments under the Facebook post of the Singapore Police Force include jokes about how our entire country’s supply of $1,000 notes were in the safes of these money launderers, and how many watch enthusiasts are looking forward to the public auction of the pieces that were seized.

Money laundering scandal in Singapore

In all honesty, this scandal gives us a good case of schadenfreude. White-collar criminals who flouted the law, pocketed almost a billion dollars in assets, and eventually got caught make us feel a tad better whenever we joke about “eating the rich.”

Check out some beautiful GCBs in Singapore that have no criminal history that we know of:

Cover image credit: Capitaland, Guz Architects, Sentosa Cove 360

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