On 19 May 2023, a 26-year-old man, Das Ashish Kumar (“Ashish”), was sentenced to five weeks’ imprisonment for an offence under Section 5(1) of the Payment Services Act 2019 and punishable under Section 5(3)(a) of the same Act read with Section 109 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224. He was convicted of the same offence on 17 May 2023.
In March 2021, the Commercial Affairs Department (“CAD”) received information that Ashish’s bank account in Singapore received two sums of USD 34,650 and USD 10,500 respectively in September 2020 from a suspected foreign victim of remittance fraud. The funds were withdrawn within two days of receipt via cash withdrawals and funds transfers.
Investigations revealed that during this period, Ashish had allowed a third-party individual to access his bank account by providing the ATM card, PIN and internet banking credentials to this individual. Ashish allowed his bank account to be used to receive USD 78,850 for the individual, out of which USD 45,150 is suspected to be derived from remittance fraud. Ashish also withdrew or transferred SGD 23,900 of the funds received on behalf of the individual.
Investigations further revealed that the third-party individual worked with two others in operating a business of providing cross-border money transfer services in Singapore by receiving monies from overseas and withdrawing them in Singapore for a commission. However, the trio did not possess a licence to carry on a business of providing any type of payment service in Singapore.
They were also not exempt payment service providers under the Payment Services Act 2019. By allowing his bank account to be used to receive monies from overseas and withdrawing them in Singapore, Ashish had abetted by intentionally aiding the carrying on a business of providing payment services without a licence.
Under Section 5 of the Payment Services Act 2019, it is an offence for anyone to carry on a business of providing any type of payment services (including cross-border money transfer services) in Singapore without a licence unless he is exempted under the Act. The offence carries an imprisonment term of up to three years, a fine of up to $125,000, or both. In the case of a continuing offence, to a fine not exceeding $12,500 for every day during which the offence continues after conviction.
This investigation, which arose from the analysis of a Suspicious Transaction Report, also showcases the usefulness of financial intelligence in detecting criminal activities in Singapore. Any knowledge or reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct should be reported to the authorities as soon as reasonably practicable.
The Police would like to remind members of the public to only use payment service providers licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Unlicensed payment service operators are not regulated and not subjected to strict anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism measures. The Police will not hesitate to take action against any individual or entity involved in providing any cross-border money transfer services, as they pose the risk of being conduits for money laundering and terrorist financing.
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
19 May 2023 @ 2:10 PM